An animal shelter was swarmed with armed government agents after employees recently began caring for a baby deer.
Ray Schulze was working in the barn at the Society of St. Francis on the Kenosha-Illinois border recently, when a swarm of squad cars and officers "armed to the teeth" arrived with a search warrant.
"(There were) nine DNR agents and four deputy sheriffs, and they were all armed to the teeth," Schulze said.
The focus of their search was a baby fawn brought there by an Illinois family worried she had been abandoned by her mother.
"When it made a little noise, it sounded like it was laughing," Schulze said.
Schulze videotaped the fawn they named Giggles during the two weeks she was there. The Department of Natural Resources began investigating after two anonymous calls reporting a baby deer at the no-kill shelter.
The warden drafted an affidavit for the search warrant, complete with aerial photos in which he described getting himself into a position where he was able to see the fawn going in and out of the barn.
Agents told staff they came to seize the deer because Wisconsin law forbids the possession of wildlife.
Schulze explained that the tiny fawn was scheduled to go to a wildlife reserve the very next day, one that specializes in rehabilitating animals to the wild.
But the armed agents corralled the shelter workers in a picnic area, and set off in search of the fawn.
"I was thinking in my mind they were going to take the deer and take it to a wildlife shelter, and here they come carrying the baby deer over their shoulder. She was in a body bag," Schulze said. "I said, 'Why did you do that?' He said, 'That's our policy,' and I said, 'That's one hell of a policy.'"
WISN 12 News spoke with the DNR about the fawn, and Supervisor Jennifer Niemeyer said Wisconsin law requires DNR agents to euthanize animals like Giggles "because of the potential for disease and danger to humans."
"These are always very difficult situations for both parties involved, and we are empathetic to the fact of what happened because we know in our heart of hearts they tried to do the right thing," Niemeyer said.
Investigative reporter Colleen Henry asked if the DNR couldn't have called ahead, especially given the resources they obviously invested in the operation.
"If a sheriff's department is going in to do a search warrant on a drug bust, they don't call them and ask them to voluntarily surrender their marijuana or whatever drug that they have before they show up," Niemeyer said.
The Society of St. Francis shelter plans to sue the DNR for removing Giggles without even a court hearing. They also question what such an operation costs taxpayers.
What would PETA do, I wonder?