Wisconsin wildlife officials are proposing some new rules for how the state will deal with wild animals that have been taken into captivity.
The proposal comes after an incident earlier this month in Kenosha County when the state Department of Natural Resources and sheriff’s agents raided a no-kill animal shelter, seized a baby deer named “Giggles,” then euthanized the animal. The incident sparked national outrage and resulted in death threats against DNR workers.
Current state law bans the possession of live wild animals, but Governor Scott Walker ordered officials to review policies in the wake of the incident.
Under the plan released Thursday by the DNR and state Agriculture Department, residents would be able to keep wild deer if they build enclosures, have health tests performed, and notify the state. It would still be illegal to take an animal from the wild and violators could face penalties. Staff would also only euthanize animals that are sick or that pose a threat to others. Otherwise, seized wild animals would typically be released back in to the wild.
Current laws are designed to discourage people from taking in wild animals as pets, such as deer. DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp says the proposed changes are not designed to encourage people to take those animals from the wild, but recognizes that “removing illegally-held wildlife takes an emotional toll on those holding the animal as well as those whose job it is to enforce the law.”
The proposed changes will go before the Natural Resources Board in September.