A family in Kansas would like to see reforms in wildlife legislation after game wardens arrived at their home and shot their pet deer, Faline, five times.
On December 19th, two game wardens arrived at Kim Mcgaughey’s workplace to inform her that she was violating the law by confining wildlife. For almost two years, Mcgaughey’s family had kept a mule deer as a pet that was free to come and go as it pleased. Faline, named after a character from Bambi, had recently gone missing for longer than usual. Mcgaughey believes that authorities were tipped off when the family posted notices on social media.
Mcgauhey says that she immediately called three zoos in Kansas to try to find Faline a new home. One of the zoos told her to call back in the morning. Unfortunately, three wardens were already arriving at the Mcgaughey’s family farm. Their daughter Taryn was home visiting and shot the video embedded below. (Video is not graphic but may be disturbing.) The wardens shot Faline five times and she died.
It seems that the Mcgauheys were technically violating the law. Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism does not allow wild animals to be kept as pets. Authorities say that the animal couldn’t just be released back into the wild for fear that it might carry chronic wasting disease which cannot be tested in live deer.
The department also discourages people from feeding or rescuing wild animals because it can train them to be unafraid of humans. That seems to have occurred with Faline. “Run, Faline, Jesus,” Taryn Mcgaughey shouted just before the deer was killed.
Department secretary Robin Jennison says that he would like to review the department’s wildlife euthanizing policy but he believes protocols were followed.
Taryn disputes that. She says that the family should legally have been given 30 days to contest a penalty notice over an unlicensed pet and 10 more days to get a license. It’s unclear if that’s true, since there is no ability to get a license for a wild animal as a pet in Kansas. She says that she would like to see reforms come out of this incident and she hopes the warden loses his job.
Ron Klataske, executive director of Audubon of Kansas spoke to the Wichita Eagle about the incident and expressed his disapproval of the current laws. He said that the risks are low and keeping wild animals first sparked his lifelong interest in nature. “You can get a permit to kill a deer, or you can kill as many crows or prairie dogs as you want in a day, but you can’t have one in captivity or have it as a pet,” he said. “I think things have gone too far.”