British Columbia

B.C. woman allowed to keep deer as pet

A Vancouver Island woman and the deer she has raised from a fawn as a pet won't be forced to separate, B.C.'s Environment Minister has decided.

Ucluelet resident Janet Schwartz will be allowed to keep Bimbo

Bimbo the black-tailed deer shares some food with her human housemate in Ucluelet, B.C. (Submitted by Janet Schwartz)

A Vancouver Island woman will be able to keep living with the deer she has raised from a fawn as a pet, B.C.'s environment minister has decided.

Minister Terry Lake says the province will permit Janet Schwartz and the animal named Bimbo to continue living together, with the help of a veterinarian and conservation officers.

The decision comes after conservation officers told the longtime Ucluelet, B.C., resident they would be seizing the deer and moving it to a wildlife rehabilitation centre.

"As a veterinarian, I am very aware of the bonding that takes place between people and their pets," said Lake.

"I am confident that by working with the provincial veterinarian and trained conservation officer staff, Ms. Schwartz will be able to follow a plan of care that will see her and Bimbo continue to live together."

He said ministry experts are highly concerned about the habituation of the animal and understand there are risks associated with removing an animal that has become accustomed to a home setting.

Schwartz has lived with the creature for more than 10 years, feeding it goat's milk and allowing it to sleep in a bed with her and her dog.

Schwartz and Bimbo first made the news in 2009, when officials with the B.C. Ministry of Environment ordered her to set the deer free or take it to a rehabilitation centre, saying wild animals should not be kept as pets.

Schwartz said conservation officer backed off after the story hit the news, but recently turned up at her door with new papers, demanding she turn the deer over, once again.

Complicating matters is the news that Bimbo is one-month pregnant and has cravings for chocolate cookies, she says.

With files from The Canadian Press