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Riverside animal services confiscates mule deer apparently kept as a pet

September 17, 2009 |  5:08 pm

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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