local woman has been fined for keeping a baby deer at her home and obstructing conservation officials as they sought to get care for the tiny animal.
Tami Lutz was fined a total of $2,680 in Prince Albert Provincial Court earlier this week after pleading guilty to two charges under the Saskatchewan Wildlife Act. Lutz entered the pleas in court last month.
The case goes back to June when conservation officers received a call from Lutz asking how to care for the newborn animal. Officer Charlene Berard told the court Lutz was advised to take the deer, then just days old, to a rehabilitation specialist. Conservation officials followed up with Lutz a few days later, but got a search warrant and seized her cell phone after she refused to comply or tell them where the animal was.
“There was a lot of time and a lot of resources put into this,” Berard said.
In an interview with paNOW, Lutz admitted she did not comply with requests to hand over the deer, but said the animal was very sick and she was concerned it would be euthanized. Lutz said she got the animal from an acquaintance who asked her to take care of it, and she feels the investigation into the incident was heavy-handed.
“In the very beginning, it’s me who contacted them to have a permit to keep this deer healthy,” she said. “I approached them to do the right thing. They refused to give me a permit to keep this deer.”
Lutz said she had the deer for a few days, during which time she said the animal gained strength and was able to suck from a bottle. Lutz said the family became fond of the animal but never intended to keep it.
In court last month, she said caring for the deer “became a little family thing” and said the deer “did absolutely everything with us,” including going for a ride on a quad around the property.
Berard told the court that’s exactly why conservation officers advise against caring for wild animals, telling the court that it's important to “keep the wild in wildlife.” She said wild animals should have minimal contact with humans while being rehabilitated. The deer was eventually tranquilized and taken to a rehabilitation property in the Meadow Lake area, Berard said in court.
Conservation Officer Kevin Harrison told paNOW that wild animals can also spread disease, specifically Chronic Wasting Disease, and there are some areas of the province where the disease is more prevalent than others. In Lutz’s case, a “rehabber” was available to care for the deer near Meadow Lake, he said.
“We leave it up to the professionals to do, when people try to do it at home, it’s just stressful on the animal,” Harrison said. “We want the animal to get the best care that they can.”
Lutz said she will pay the court fines, adding she is still happy to have had a part in caring for the baby deer.
“It’s the experience of a lifetime,” Lutz added. “No matter how big of a fine, they will never be able to take away the beautiful thing that we did … no matter what the consequences, we will have those memories the rest of our life.”
On Twitter: @CharleneTebbutt
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