Illinois family fighting to keep pet deer

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DIX, IL (KTVI) - Two deer in a small Illinois town have gotten the attention of hundreds of thousands of people. That’s because a family adopted the deer, and is hoping state officials will allow them to keep the animals.

Rhonda Crawford has named the deer “Dude” and “Jude.” She said Dude was a few days old when the deer’s mother was killed by a car. Crawford said Jude was a fawn when found on a friend’s property.

“They’re fine here,” said Crawford. “They’re healthy.”

Crawford purchased what she thought was a permit to keep the deer. She said she renewed that permit annually. She said a recent inspection from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources resulted in her receiving a ticket.

“I have a breeder’s permit, but they said that was only for if I had bought them from a breeder,” said Crawford. “Since we had actually taken them from the wild then, that’s not legal.”

Crawford launched a petition with hopes of convincing the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will allow her to keep the deer. A spokesperson for the department told us a decision has not yet been made.

Wildlife experts say there are several reasons not to domesticate wildlife, including disease concerns. Crawford insists her deer are healthy and believes they are happy where they are right now.