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Proposal Would Prevent DNR from Euthanizing Wild Animals in Shelters

The state could have a new policy on the treatment of wild animals, after Gov. Walker and others were outraged by an incident involving a fawn.Earlier this summer, a fawn found in the wild was handed over to a no-kill animal rehabilitation center in Kenosha County. When the DNR learned the fawn was there, the agency seized the animal and had it euthanized, saying the law prohibited the shelter from keeping the animal.

The shelter staff, advocates for animals and Gov. Walker were among those upset by the incident. Walker told his administration to take action, to ensure a similar situation would not occur in the future.

On Thursday, the DNR, along with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, issued recommendations to modify the state’s laws and policies regarding captured wildlife. The agencies' proposed changes include:

  • A provision that the DNR reintroduce to the wild illegally captured wild animals, provided they don’t pose a threat to public health, other wildlife or the animal itself
  • Licensed rehabilitation facilities would be allowed to care for animals that cannot be returned to the wild immediately
  • The DNR would restrict the use of euthanasia, resorting to it only if an animal is “sick, highly likely to be diseased, or a threat to public health or the health of other wildlife”
  • People could keep a wild deer, provided they meet certain criteria. They include regulations meant to protect the health of the deer and the state’s herd, such as having a veterinarian do health checks, and keeping the deer in a specially designed enclosure

The DNR and DATCP say the proposal is not meant to encourage people to remove animals from the wild. The agencies stress that some animals, such as fawns, may appear to be abandoned, when their mothers are finding food nearby.
Gov. Walker issued a statement thanking the agencies for their work, and encouraging the Legislature and Natural Resources Board to consider the recommendations.

DNR officials are expected to present the proposal at the board’s September meeting.

Ann-Elise Henzl became News Director in September 2017.