ROCHESTER, Wash. - Washington state fish and wildlife officers are rounding up juvenile deer and elk at a Rochester, Washington, wildlife rehab facility -- and facility owners fear the animals will be put down.
The owners of For Heaven's Sake Wildlife Rescue say the state has no reason to confiscate the animals. They say a former intern misinformed officials the young animals were overly friendly to humans.
The rescue facility says the described behavior was at a time when the animals were being bottle-fed.
“The fawn we were raising were too friendly to be released in the wild,” Claudia Supensky, with the rescue organization, said. “That's the time in their lives when they stop depending on humans. … We just don't know what to do. We can't do anything. We're totally, our hands are tied.”
Supensky said her facility has never had anything like this crop up in the past. KIRO 7 looked into Washington state law around wildlife rehabilitation and found the following: "Wildlife tamed by, imprinted on, or habituated to humans before admission to the primary permittee's facility can be retained for education if the department authorizes this in writing. The department will make such determinations on a case-by-case basis."
After the accusations, officers began rounding up and shooting the herd with darts Thursday afternoon.
Most of the animals fled into nearby woods.
Officers took four fawns and an elk calf.
They say they'll be back for the rest Friday.
“My worry is that they'll be euthanized prematurely,” Supensky said, “without giving them a chance.”
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