DNR to request that charges be dropped against Connersville couple in deer case

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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.”

Watch Fox59 News beginning at 4 p.m. for the very latest on this story.

22 comments

  • Howard

    I would have down the same thing animals should have the right for a second chance how can dnr sleep at nite when they say leave the animal to die really this is for the dnr would u won't to be left in the woods to die please answer two the couple u guys done the right thing god bless u all

  • I am you

    Weak. Another cop breaking the law and not being punished. Admittedly a dumb law, but a law that would be upheld had a regular citizen broken it.

    • Marcia

      Another cop and his wife doing something right! They shouldn't have been charged in the first place. Police officer has nothing to do with it! Could have been a banker and it would still be wrong

    • Jimmy

      I think that the outcry over the incident would have been the same, regardless of Mr. Councellor's profession. It's a law that has a place, and is used in so few incidents throughout the year, that it really was misapplied in this instance, and for any other similar conditions.

      Regardless, the infraction is only a Misdemeanor, which means that law enforcement has discretion in whether or not they even arrest the person, before any court proceedings would take place. This whole incident should have stopped at that level.

    • guest

      Are you delirious? The DNR was dead set on prosecuting this couple regardless of his profession. They knew when they turned it over to the prosecutor he was an officer. The only reason they are dropping the charges is because everyone stood up for these people on facebook and on the news stations websites. If this had not gone viral he would be fighting this in court!

  • Ben

    The DNR was just doing they were required by law to do and the prosecutor is just doing what they are required by law to do. Of someone is to blame it is the legislators and the people who elected them.

  • sandijdobie

    A few people need to get fired for this. Really, the most ridiculous screw up I have seen for quite awhile, and cost the tax payers alot of money for nothing. Whoever made the first decision to not let them care for the animal should go first, all the way down the line – its on the people who could not make a common sense decision.

  • Barbara Metzler

    I certainly hope the Indiana DNR drops the charges against the Connersville family that helped the fawn.
    It is disgusting to think that hunters can kill for the thrill and good people are punished for helping wildlife!
    I would be so proud of the Indiana DNR for dropping the charges!
    The stupid laws in this world need to change NOW!
    There are people who love and protect animals and I admire those people.

    • MeatPlow

      A total of 129,018 deer were legally harvested in Indiana during the 2011 season. The 2012 harvest was 4% lower than the 134,004 deer harvested during the 2010 season. The 2012 season was hurt by extreme drought and disease.

      Deer are capable of two young a year. what is your solution to controlling the population? Wolves, Cougars? Cars? Hunters love the outdoors and all in it more than you will ever understand.

      • Barbara Metzler

        I love the outdoors, Meat Plow, but not to kill.

        Since hunting causes the reproduction rates of a deer population to
        double or triple, hunting is not a solution to a problem, but a
        commitment to a permanent problem. This phenomenon explains
        why hunting as a management tool has resulted in an ever increasing
        number of deer.

        Leave deer alone, and their population will stabilize. Many studies
        have proven this!!! And, I didn't do the studies. Many universities did.

      • MeatPlow

        sorry, I can't buy into that at all. Your telling me that dead deer cause more deer to exist??? then why is the phenomena graced only to deer and not other endangered species?
        The deer population could only stabilize by disease and starvation. Without any predators the population would grow again to repeat the process.

        you, have a good weekend.

    • MeatPlow

      it's B S. if you type certain words with meanings "deemed" unacceptable all your effort is wasted,
      i believe K!ll or Dr^gs are such words. pretty dang common. but your gone by now so this will be a waste of time.

  • rmw00

    It is against the law to mess with wild animals because it almost always turns out badly. Do we now want people capturing baby deer so they can raise it as a pet? The law is there to prevent harvesting of wild animals as pets. Did the couple break the law? Yes. Should there be a penalty? Of course, or it wouldn't really be a law. Was the initial response heavy handed? Yes. Write them a ticket or something.

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