DNR: Woman fined for taking wild fawns home

Karen Hofstetter, fawns, Michigan DNR
This screenshot of Karen Hofstetter's Facebook page, provided by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, shows some of the fawns she took from the wild. (July 7, 2016)

STANTON, Mich. (WOOD) — A Montcalm County woman had to pay $575 in fines after she took four fawns from the wild to be pets and then lied to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources about it, state officials say.

In mid-May, the DNR says, Karen Hofstetter contacted a conservation officer and said she had taken a fawn from the woods because it was alone. She was told to put it back, but didn’t. Instead, she gave it away and posted photos to Facebook of the baby deer inside a home. She then apparently lied about the situation when confronted by the DNR.

The DNR says Hofstetter did the same thing again the next week, this time taking three fawns. Again, she gave them away and then lied to the DNR about it.

After collecting some evidence, a conservation officer got Hofstetter to admit what she had done. She received four misdemeanor citations that were later combined into one, the result of which was the fine.

According to screenshots provided by the DNR, Hofstetter also posted several profanity-laced rants on Facebook about the situation, using slurs in reference to DNR officers and in one case threatening to kill any animals she sees.

The DNR collected all four of the fawns. One soon died, another was released back into the wild, and the remaining two are being cared for by a wildlife rehabilitation specialist until they can be freed.

According to the DNR, mother deer will often leave their fawns alone while they go to eat and drink. The fawns are camouflaged and don’t have much of a natural smell, so they’re generally overlooked by predators. The mother would give away their hiding places if she stayed with them. The DNR says people who see a fawn by itself should not assume it has been abandoned and should not take it.

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