INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is asking charges be dismissed against a couple who nursed an injured baby deer back to health.
The agency said in a statement that Gov. Mike Pence asked the DNR to reevaluate the case, and that they have now recommended charges be dismissed.
Connersville police officer Jeff Counceller and his wife, Jennifer, were charged this month with illegal possession of a white-tailed deer, a misdemeanor that carries up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
The couple found the injured deer in 2010 and named her Dani. The DNR originally told the Councellers to return the ailing deer to the wild, but they took it home and nursed it back to health.
DNR officials said the decision to drop the charges was theirs, not something that came down from the governor's office.
The case has sparked outrage online and garnered national attention. The reaction to Friday's news was swift on the RTV6 Facebook page .
"It was dumb to even press charges....wonder how much tax money was wasted on this," Chris Rodriguez posted.
"Thank god, smarter minds finally prevailed," Danielle Goad wrote.
"Yes, let's please use our limited resources to apprehend criminals who are out to destroy people's lives and property instead of prosecuting people who are trying to help the weak and needlessly clogging up the court system," Lisa Gritt wrote.
Some speculated that the public outrage changed the course of the case.
"I wonder why (they want to drop the charges), do you think we put to much heat on them?" Brenda Kay posted.
"They are only doin this for the publicity. They wouldn't do it unless it benefits them. Jus sayin," Donald Kemp wrote.
The DNR said it hopes to use the incident as a teaching moment to let Hoosiers know the law prohibits ownership of wild animals for many reasons, among them the chance they will transmit diseases and parasites to humans.
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