Michigan family fights to keep their wild pet, Lilly the deer

Department of Natural Resources wants to take deer away from family

Author: Ken Haddad, Social Media Producer, @KenHLocal4, KHaddad@wdiv.com
Published On: Jun 06 2013 12:37:27 PM EDT   Updated On: Jun 06 2013 05:07:13 PM EDT
Flint, MI -

A Genesee County family is fighting to keep their pet deer, Lilly.

Lilly was rescued by the family (who has asked to remain anonymous) about five years ago, after the deer's mother was hit by a car outside their home in 2009. Before dying, she gave birth to Lilly.

Now, the family says Lilly has become "like their child" and has accustomed to "sleeping on the couch, playing Frisbee and watching TV" with their sons. But when a neighbor's friend saw the deer, she contacted the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which came to confiscate the deer.

Currently, there are several petitions supporting the domestic situation on Change.org, one with almost 6,000 signatures.

A fund has been set up online to help the family with legal fees. The family has hired a lawyer to help fight the DNR.

On Wednesday, a "Save Lilly the Deer" Facebook page was created, which is now filled with posts like, “The DNR's mission is to PROTECT wildlife, and if they put Lilly back in the wild, or euthanize [sic] her because she is unfit for the wild, they are effectively causing Lilly HARM, not PROTECTING her,” or “The DNR needs to spend OUR MONEY on more important areas. Stop wasting the peoples [sic] money on such stupid stuff.”

The DNR responded on its Facebook page with this statement:

"We want to update you on the deer that was taken in by a family in Genesee County. First, we are working with the family on options to resolve this situation, including finding a suitable place for the deer to reside, and those options are very limited and finding a suitable place is both expensive and difficult. We will keep you all posted on the outcome. Keeping a deer as a pet is illegal in Michigan. Second, we cannot emphasize enough that it is critically important that wildlife remain in the wild. Wildlife should never be taken out of its natural habitat -- doing so is dangerous and does nothing but create difficult and untenable situations for everyone involved. If you see a fawn in the wild that is alone, the odds are very high that it was NOT abandoned. It is normal deer behavior for a female deer to leave her fawn unattended in the wild for long periods of time. Why? Because fawns are born without an odor. A female deer will leave a fawn by itself so her scent does not attract a predator. Again, please help us avoid situations like this in the future by leaving wildlife in the wild. If you are certain the mother has been killed or is dead, then call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, who is specially trained to handle wildlife and care for it until it can be re-released into the wild."