A southern Wisconsin deer who state officials reportedly wanted to euthanize will likely live to see another Christmas thanks to an unofficial pardon from Governor Scott Walker brought on largely by pressure from concerned Chicago Tribune readers.
The Tribune's John Kass reported Thursday on the plight of Charlotte the deer, who was taken in just over a year ago by Marvin Graaf, of Lake Geneva, Wis., a horse rescuer, when the deer's mother was killed in a car crash.
According to the Tribune, Graaf kept the orphaned baby deer alive by feeding her formula for puppies while he attempted to find a wildlife shelter that would take her in. That plan was complicated by the fact that Charlotte was found in a chronic wasting disease (CWD) zone. When he continued to keep the deer and refused to surrender her to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to be euthanized, the agency charged the man with unauthorized taking of deer from the wild, which comes with a $2,000 fine and the threat of eight months of jail time.
"I can't stand to see any animal suffer," Graaf told the Tribune. "I'm just between a rock and a hard place here."
But Kass' column helped invigorate a "Save Charlotte" campaign which, as of Friday, appears to have saved the deer's life. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Gov. Walker has issued an unofficial pardon for the deer and has directed the DNR to protect her.
The DNR and a Walworth County assistant district attorney noted to the Journal-Sentinel that they are now attempting to find a home where Charlotte "can live and be safe and not infect other deer with chronic wasting disease."
Graaf has a court hearing Wednesday on the charge of unlawfully taking Charlotte out of the wild, according to AP, but the Tribune reports that that charge is expected to be dropped.
Watch a video report on Charlotte here.