Orphaned fawn puts officer in dilemma

'Some people say just let nature take its course, but I didn't have the heart'

Joanne Laucius
The Ottawa Citizen

Friday, June 10, 2005

CREDIT: Chris Mikula, The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa police Const. Randy Wagner says he has had to shoot many deer wounded when they were hit by cars, but he wasn't able to do the same with the fawn.

Ottawa police Const. Randy Wagner was a Good Samaritan with a dilemma: what to do with an orphaned fawn.

The officer was answering a call to rural Kanata yesterday when he spotted the tiny creature. A passerby had found it on the shoulder of the road and moved it to a nearby lawn. There was no mother nearby and the fawn was so weak it couldn't stand up.

"It was pretty emaciated. I'm not an expert on deer, but it was pretty pathetic," said Const.

Wagner. "When things like this happen on someone's front lawn, they expect someone to do something about it."

Then he found the carcass of an adult deer not far away. It seemed likely the dead animal was the fawn's mother.

The officer's problem: Who to call for help? In 15 years as a police officer in the rural west end, he has had to shoot many deer injured in car collisions. But he had never had to deal with a fawn.

The Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre used to take in injured and orphaned animals. But it was closed in December 2002 due to changes in provincial regulations about caring for wild animals. Last spring, the Humane Society said in a statement that if sick, injured and orphaned wild animals were brought to its facility, the society had no choice but to euthanize them.

"There was literally no place to take this poor animal," said Const. Wagner. "Some people say to let nature take its course, but I just didn't have the heart."

But Const. Wagner was in luck. After a round of calls, he found a rural family who knew how to foster orphaned deer.

Donna Dubreuil, president of the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre, said restrictive provincial laws have essentially made it impossible for people to rehabilitate sick or orphaned wild animals. Deer, for example, must be raised with other deer or they become too tame around people. When released back into the wild, they endanger themselves by getting too close to humans.

"People really have no other option but to leave the animal alone to die. The ministry has created a crisis all over the province."

Const. Wagner is sure someone at the ministry of natural resources "will take exception to this."

He feels he did the right thing.

"I got this innocent creature into some caring hands. I'm happy."

 The Ottawa Citizen 2005

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