A Kansas family is struggling with the fact that local game wardens killed their “pet deer” who had been part of the family for the past 22 months.
Kim Mcgaughey, of Ulysses, Kansas, said her pet deer, Faline, “was very much a big pet. There was no reason for her to be killed. Her being domesticated was her own doing. She chose to stay. I never kept her from going away and being with other deer.”
Mcgaughey tells the story of how she’s always had “a way” with animals in her life.
She’s had a pet mouse that could be walked on a leash; and her horses, dogs, and cats were especially well trained.
In the past, Mcgaughey had mentioned to neighbors in Grant County how she’d always wanted a pet deer. One day, in March of 2014, she walked over to a neighbor’s home who’d been keeping a mule deer discovered as a fawn the year before.
Mcgaughey says, “It was an instant connection and she just followed me home, about four miles. She’d bonded some with the other people, but not like she did with me.”
Within a few weeks, the mule deer, which they named “Faline” after Bambi’s friend and future mate in the cartoon movie, “considered herself part of the family.”
The deer would follow Mcgaughey in and out of their rural home, located 12 1/2 miles from town, and would play with all members of the family and their pets.
Taryn Mcgaughey, Kim Mcgaughey’s daughter, has photos of her 8-year-old son playing with the deer, as well as of the animal standing on the couch looking out the window and being hugged by family members.
In early December, Kim Mcgaughey noticed Faline hadn’t come home for several days. On Dec 9, she posted on Facebook asking if anyone had seen her deer. The deer eventually returned to the home but Mark Rankin, the wildlife department’s assistant director, said the Facebook post led to a complaint being filed with his department.
Rankin said game wardens found Kim Mcgaughey at her workplace in Ulysses on the afternoon of Dec. 19 and issued her a ticket for “unlawful possession of wildlife without a permit.”
According to Mcgaughey, three game wardens soon met at the house and determined it wouldn’t be safe to capture the deer. “They couldn’t find a veterinarian to tranquilize the animal.”
Rather than taking a chance that the deer might not be there if the game wardens left and came back later, a game warden named Tanner Dixson shot the animal near some trees on the Mcgaughey’s property, at the edge of the driveway.
Taryn Mcgaughey shot video of the three game wardens following the deer around the yard and driveway and eventually herding it toward where Dixson was waiting.
When reached for comment, Dixson declined to address the incident and referred all inquiries to Rankin.
State Wildlife officials said that it is illegal to keep a wild animal as a pet in Kansas and that “something had to be done about the 2-year-old mule deer.”
According to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism, “At least two people have been killed in Kansas by pet deer.”
The Department said it was trying to protect people from being physically injured by the deer, and eliminate the possibility of disease being passed to humans, livestock, and other deer.
Robin Jennison, the Department’s secretary, said, “[We} are confident the game wardens acted within their authority but would like the agency to reexamine its policy on euthanizing wildlife.”
Jennison added, “All of our people have a real heart for wildlife. I can’t imagine any of our employees enjoying something like this. These things are never easy, but I think we really need to come up with policy that better handles these kinds of things.”
Mcgaughey plans to speak at a Kansas Wildlife Parks and Commission meeting Thursday in Emporia.
Watch the video below. WARNING: disturbing content!
H/T: The Wichita Eagle
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