A Connersville couple facing charges for illegally nursing a deer back to health is getting a reprieve.
The Department of Natural Resources will ask that the charges be dismissed against Jeff and Jennifer Counceller. The couple took in a fawn named Dani in 2010 after finding the animal was injured.
An Indiana Conservation Officer told them it is illegal to possesses a wild animal without a permit and that the best option would be to abandon the fawn and leave it in a wooded area.
The couple said the deer would have died if they hadn’t taken it in and nursed it back to health. They believe a coyote had badly injured the fawn, and feared Dani would die without help.
After they were still found to have the deer without a DNR permit, the case was turned over to prosecutors. A grassroots movement built on Facebook in support of the couple. Some even called for Gov. Mike Pence to step in.
The Councellers said they tried unsuccessfully to get a permit. They admitted they broke the law, but said they felt they had to do what was right. The couple also said they were prepared to fight any charges filed against them.
The Decatur County Prosecutor’s Office told Fox59 they are awaiting a written statement from DNR regarding their desire to dismiss charges. Once it is received, prosecutors said they would review it and make a decision.
The prosecutor’s released the following statement in part:
“This matter is still a pending prosecution, so we are limited on what we are able to discuss pursuant to the Rules of Professional Conduct. The allegations in this care are that Mr. and Mrs. Counceller kept a deer in captivity for 23 months, violating Indiana Code 14-22-38-4, which states that unlawful possession of deer is a class C misdemeanor. We hope that the Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana legislature will take this opportunity to review that statue and decide if matters like these allegations should be handled as crimes or infractions in the future.”
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