INDIANAPOLIS – Jeff Counceller says a dying fawn he found on someone’s porch three years ago surely wouldn’t have lived had he and his wife not nursed it back to health on their eastern Indiana farm. The Connersville police officer insists they had no clue that they could be breaking the law.
The couple’s good deed put them at odds with the state Department of Natural Resources, and prosecutors this month charged Jeff and Jennifer Counceller with illegal possession of a white-tailed deer, a misdemeanor that carries up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Counceller said they plan to fight the charges, even though it might be cheaper and easier to just pay the fine. If their burgeoning legion of online supporters is any indication, public opinion is very much on the couple’s side.
Counceller told the Indianapolis Star that he found the deer in 2010 curled up on a front porch with maggot-infested puncture wounds, so he brought it back to his family’s 17-acre farm to try to save it. The couple named the fawn Dani and kept it in a fenced enclosure.
Jeff Counceller said he and his wife didn’t know it was illegal to keep the deer and that returning it to the wild when they were told to do so would have been a death sentence.
A probable cause affidavit said Jennifer Counceller told a conservation officer that she eventually realized she needed a permit to keep the deer but didn’t contact officials because she realized they would put it down.
Jeff Counceller didn’t immediately respond to a phone message Tuesday.