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Riverside animal services confiscates mule deer apparently kept as a pet

Riversidedeer We never cease to be amazed by people's attempts to make wild animals into pets (as if there weren't enough domesticated animals out there in need of homes), and the Riverside County Department of Animal Services had a doozy of a case earlier this week when it confiscated a mule deer apparently being kept as a pet by a Glen Avon man. (It's illegal to keep a deer, along with many other species of wildlife, without a permit in California.)

A Riverside County code enforcement officer discovered the deer, a juvenile male, during routine rounds and notified animal control Tuesday. 

Animal control officer Will Luna headed out to Glen Avon, an unincorporated area of Riverside County south of Fontana. There, he informed the man, who was not identified, that he was in violation of the law by keeping the deer. The man released the animal to officer Luna, who contacted the California Department of Fish and Game. It's unclear whether he'll face additional penalties for keeping a wild animal without a permit.

The deer was taken to the Riverside City/County Animal Shelter, where it stayed overnight and quickly became a staff favorite (as evidenced by the above photo). Animal control officers described it as friendly and unafraid of people, meaning it had likely been kept as a pet for an extended period of time. On Wednesday, the deer was taken to his new home: the Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Phelan. Because the deer doesn't have the healthy fear of humans that wild deer do, it's likely that it will remain at a sanctuary for the rest of its life, although authorities don't yet know if the deer will stay at Forever Wild or be relocated to a different wildlife rescue center.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Riverside County animal control officer Lorena Barron with the mule deer. Credit: Riverside County Department of Animal Services

 
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Awful that this man kept a deer for a pet and I agree that it's especially rotten when so many domesticated animals are homeless. And some are wild when they should be domestic (like feral cats - originating from abandoned pets). I also think it's irresponsible of the LA Times to publish a photo of someone cuddling up with the deer in question! It only encourages more people to think of deer as cute and cuddly pets, instead of the wild animals that they are who do not belong in domestic situations.

It's appaling how little American ideals of indepence, private property, and personal choice mean anymore.
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These types of laws may have good intentions. Protecting wildlife from irresponsible owners and humans from poorly-socialized adult wildlife are worthy goals, but the heavy-handed, state-knows-best, you have NO appeal laws are just awful.
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There should be a way a citizen can get an affordable permit to keep wildlife as pets or for education. The permit can be conditional of the owner proving they have the education and facilities needed to deal with a particular species.
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I do not encourage capturing wildlife for this purpose, but when one rescues a youngster there should be way to allow wildlife as pets.

Riverside County Department of Animal Services did not “confiscate” a pet mule deer – they STOLE a pet from their fellow American. Just my opinion.


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