Gov. Mike Pence wants briefing on deer rescue that has cop, wife facing jail time

Pence: 'We're looking into it'

CONNERSVILLE, Ind. - Jeff and Jennifer Counceller likely never imagined how a good deed could go so wrong and spark the worldwide support now pouring in.

"No matter what the law is, we did what was right for the animal," Jennifer Counceller said.

The story is familiar by now. How the Councellers took in an injured baby deer, raised it, and now face jail time and fines for illegally harboring a wild animal.

Garfield Seeley, a neighbor of the Councellers, said he raised an orphaned deer.

"The fawn I raised didn't have a mother, so I just did the best I could," Seeley said.

Another man, who didn't want to be identified for fear of retribution from conservation officers, said he's done it too.

"It was less than a day old, and the mother had been hit by a car," he said.

The deer was raised on the man's 5-acre property in central Indiana.

When a conservation officer confronted him, his wildlife permit was expired. He said it was then revoked by the Department of Natural Resources, he was threatened with arrest and the deer was taken away and euthanized.

"It's just absolutely abuse of their power," the man said. "There are folks out here that do know how to raise wild animals."

That's what Jeff and Jennifer Counceller say they did on behalf of an injured animal.

Their case attracted the attention of state Republican lawmakers who want Gov. Mike Pence to look into the case, and on Wednesday, Pence said he wants a briefing on the situation.

"It appears that our conservation officers acted appropriately and in a manner consistent with Indiana law, but we're looking into it," Pence said.

While prosecutors are moving forward with their case against the couple, the case pits Indiana law against often Good Samaritans and what is in the best interests of orphaned and injured wildlife.

A legal analyst told RTV6 he expects that the case won't go to trial. He calls it prosecutorial over-reaching and said that pursuing the case in no way furthers justice.

Print this article Back to Top