“(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.”
And how did the Wisconsin DNR mouthpiece respond to local media when queried by them if this SWAT raid wasn’t a bit excessive? By admitting the treated this small animal shelter, and on baby deer, just as they would a high risk drug raid.
“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,”
If that’s not enough for you here is the initial excuse-making, errr … press release, the DNR put out:
Last week our warden staff had the difficult and emotional job of removing a fawn that was illegally taken out of the wild and into captivity. None of our staff take joy in these situations. The department does the best it can to educate the public about keeping wild animals in the wild. In the end, we are charged by the citizens of Wisconsin to carry out state laws mandated by the legislature. It is a responsibility we take very seriously. We don’t have the ability to pick and choose which laws to enforce. Our staff took precautions to keep everyone safe as they executed the required search warrant. We are always very empathetic to those involved in these situations and understand how difficult they are to all who are involved.
If you think that is laughable – you would find huge numbers of good folks around the world who would agree … as yes, this story, rightfully so, has gone viral.
After being soundly trashed, here is the statement I received today from the head of the Wisconsin DNR, Ms. Cathy Stepp – in response to my email to the Governor of Wisconsin’s office, highly ritical of the action of the DNR staff and leadership:
Last week our warden staff had the difficult and emotional job of removing a fawn that was illegally taken out of the wild and into captivity. None of our staff take joy in these situations. The department does the best it can to educate the public about keeping wild animals in the wild. In the end, we are charged by the citizens of Wisconsin to carry out state laws mandated by the legislature. It is a responsibility we take very seriously. We don’t have the ability to pick and choose which laws to enforce. Wardens did request voluntary compliance from the facility. When that didn’t happen, our staff took precautions to keep everyone safe as they executed the required search warrant. We are always very empathetic to those involved in these situations and understand how difficult they are to all who are involved.
Cathy Stepp – Secretary, WI Dept of Natural Resources
Now, after this has gone viral worldwide, and after doing their best to smear the shelter with claims of a myriad of illegal and criminal offenses, which they used to justify their warrant and raid (which they have acknowledged they do not intend to prosecute the shelter over) they claim they did ask for voluntary compliance.
Lets say they really did make a good faith effort to obtain voluntary compliance. First, if they did, it begs the question why wasn’t that mentioned originally, in response to direct questions from the local TV station?
Second, and more importantly, even if this small shelter refused to turn over this baby deer voluntarily … asking I’m pretty sure for some paperwork showing a right to do so, what possible justification was there for the show of force – a 13 member, “armed to the teeth” SWAT team, who by the DNR’s admission performed the same type raid as a high risk drug bust entails?
Here is the “threat” that required a heavily armed 13 member high risk SWAT team to apprehend and kill … say goodnight Giggles:
As I noted I wrote a somewhat detailed note t the Governor. The response from the DNR head is above. My response to her silly excuse-making, going all in and condoning the actions of her people, is below. I did get a bit long-winded …. 🙂
This entire mess is a complete joke – and has rightly made you and your organization the laughing stock of, not only the country, but now it’s the world. You should be ashamed – of the actions of your department and staff, and of yourself for condoning this ridiculous situation.
You and the “SWAT team” boys, have just set back the public perception, already highly suspect, of the DNR by decades. The image of heavily armed, jack-booted thugs, terrorizing the staff of a small shelter, whose only crime is carrying about wildlife, to apprehend and kill a baby deer is literally unbelievable.
The animal was in a SHELTER. Brought there by concerned and caring members of the public – a family from ILLINOIS. Both of them were actually looking OUT for the animal – unlike the WI DNR. It was by all appearances an ILLINOIS deer according to news reports, delivered to the no-kill shelter on the WI/IL Border. The fawn was due to be placed in an ILLINOIS wildlife sanctuary the following day.
Your jack booted thugs couldn’t let that happen. Their little “war game” would have been over – they wouldn’t have been able to play SWAT team. But they certainly would have avoided all the negative publicity.
Instead a large number – 9 DNR officers – plus 4 Sheriff Deputies … showed up and performed a full out SWAT raid. Apparently after a full covert surveillance by DNR officers including apparently aerial photos.
For a baby deer. Let me repeat – for a BABY DEER.
A completely ridiculous and unjustified waste of resources not to mention a horrible PR nightmare. 100% – completely – unnecessary.
Instead of the detailed surveillance, as described in the documents – one officer – the same idiot that treated this apparently like a high crimes spy case – or perhaps a couple, just in case the shelter staff suddenly turned violent (yeah right) could have walked up to the door, and simply asked – do you have a deer in here? And then explained the law. No amount of excuses or back-pedalling will change the stupidity and arrogance of this display of force.
As far as ‘having to’ enforce the laws – that is complete gibberish as well. Like any LEO you enforce the laws as required and appropriate for the circumstances. Many violations are treated with warnings.
That is why law enforcement has escalation of force policies – because some cops on the street are – like these officers – unable to use good judgment – looking for an excuse to dress up and use the maximum force they can.
The absolute “tell” here – the proof that these DNR officers were way out of line, simply looking for an excuse to play SWAT team – is the statement that the shelter is unlikely to be charged for any of the nefarious criminal acts alleged in the complaint – the crimes used to justify this raid. That is ALL the report was – an excuse to justify a massive show of force – all to capture and kill one baby deer, at an animal shelter … a fawn arranged to be returned to the woild the following day.
And the DNR statement points out the further silliness of their position. Had this animal been left in the wild it would be alive today. It is only because people were concerned about the safety and well being of the animal that it is dead today. The Wisconsin DNR rewards the public’s efforts to care about and protect wildlife with a death sentence. This is simply inexcusable. If the animal was not a threat in the wild, simply bringing it to a shelter does nothing to change the threat.
That is the message this silly show of force sends. Don’t screw with the DNR, or we’ll suit up the SWAT Team, terrorize, smear and harass you, and kill your little deer Giggles too.
Next the wonderful mouthpiece for the DNR stated: “In the end, we are charged by the citizens of Wisconsin to carry out state laws mandated by the legislature. It is a responsibility we take very seriously. We don’t have the ability to pick and choose which laws to enforce.”
What the DNR did here – and the pathetic response and excuse-making – shows a serious problem. This increasing militarization of even the most routine quasi law enforcement actions must stop. As should the mindset that allows these people to believe their over-the-top actions are somehow appropriate and justified.
Damn. That was some soapbox, I better climb down before I get hurt. I’m certain there’s a lotta folks in the muckety-muck section of Wisconsin government clicking their little ruby heels together tonite and chanting “I wish I may, I wish I might… make this damn thing disappear tonite …”
Sorry to those folks … but stupidity and arrogance has a much longer shelf life than that – especially when it has “SWAT Team” – “Baby deer” and “kill” in the mix.
Perhaps you might try honesty – admit the ridiculousness here, and tell us how you will see it doesn’t happen again.