British Columbia

Man fined for cradling white-tailed fawn through B.C. liquor store

Conservation officers were called to the community of Invermere, B.C., after someone reported seeing a man walking through the local liquor store with a baby deer in his arms on June 15.

Fawn-napper thought baby deer had been abandoned, conservation service says

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service said this fawn was reunited with its mother after a man picked it up and carried it into a liquor store in Invermere, B.C., earlier this month. (B.C. Conservation Service/Twitter)

A guy walks into a liquor store... and he's carrying a wide-eyed, blinking fawn.

Conservation officers got that call from the community of Invermere, B.C., on June 15 when someone reported seeing a man walking through the local pub/liquor store holding a baby deer.

Conservation officer Greg Kruger arrived at the Copper City Saloon within five minutes, but the man had already gone. Kruger looked at surveillance footage and saw a man standing at the liquor store counter, wearing a sand-coloured plaid jacket and blue jeans, cradling a white-tailed fawn in his arms.

The animal was no more than a day or two old. 

Kruger identified the man by talking to people at the bar and drove to look for him at an apartment complex in the eastern B.C. community, not far from the Alberta border.

The officer looked around and spotted a case of beer matching the beer the man had bought, outside a second-floor suite.

Kruger knocked on the door. It swung open and the man and deer were inside.

"That's when I asked him why he had the fawn," Kruger said, reached by phone on Friday.

Newborn found in a ditch

"The story I got ... was that he was west of Invermere and walking on a kind of a side road, which is not that busy. And he came across this newborn fawn that was in the grass in the ditch," the officer said.

"He looked around the immediate area, which was forested, and saw ravens flying, so he made the wrong assumption the mother was dead."

Kruger said the man originally took the fawn back into town to visit the pet store for advice, but it was closed. The nearby liquor store was just a convenient stop on the way home.

After hearing the story, Kruger scooped up the fawn and drove it back to the ditch where it had been found. He used an electronic call that mimics a fawn's cry to try coax its mother back.

"Within 20 to 30 seconds, this mature whitetail doe came running," Kruger said.

The fawn was unharmed and reunited with its mother.

The man was charged with unlawful possession of live wildlife and fined $345. The officer said the man intended to take the deer to a rehabilitation facility, but he should've called conservationists as soon as he saw the animal in the ditch.

Do not pick up fawns, service says

The conservation service said it's common to come across newborn deer, moose or elk in B.C. at this time of year. Kruger said the baby animals are often alone because they can't walk well yet and don't carry a scent, so mothers hide them and go off to feed. Fawns, in particular, can be left on their own for 24 hours before their mother returns to nurse.

Anyone who finds a hidden fawn or a calf should not pick it up. 

"If you do, likely the newborn is not being rescued, it is being abducted," Kruger said.

"Please, just call us and let us handle it."

With files from Rhianna Schmunk

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