Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Taking down Giggles the Fawn

I am way behind CNN, the AP, Huffington Post, the New York Daily News, and the Daily Mail on this but I thought the Wisconsin DNR's raid on the Society of St Francis no kill animal shelter to corral and euthanize Giggles the fawn was worth a post.  Unlike the Daily Mail, I'm not approaching this on the 'Bambi tack', the anthropomorphic, isn't it cute, 'deer are people too' style of moral outrage.  Nope, what this incident illustrates is an insane over reaction and over the top use of the powers of the state to resolve a piddling incident that would have gone away on it's own the very next day.  With all the budget cuts and understaffing, including cutting 32 more DNR jobs just three months ago, an operation such as this just points out the lack of intelligent prioritization in an increasing politicized state agency.

The short story on this incident is that after receiving an anonymous tip that the St Francis animal shelter in the Kenosha area had an illegal wild animal at it's facility, a combination of aerial and ground surveillance determined that there was indeed a whitetail deer fawn at the facility, a clear violation of state law.  This evidence was presented to a judge who issued a search warrant and this is when the fun began.  A heavily armed contingent of 13 officers, nine DNR and four deputies, raided the facility and detained the staff for a couple hours.  Drawers were rifled, cell phones confiscated, and of course Giggles was located, tranquilized, tossed in a body bag that one of the officers then tossed over his shoulder, to be offed at a remote location. You can read the AP story or the  Huffington Post for more details.

Several things leap out to a person who is able to devote 60-90 seconds of thought to the problem.  Why not call the shelter and see what they have to say?  Why use aerial assets when a warden slinking along the fence actually saw the fawn, plenty of probably cause for a search warrant?  Why bother with a search warrant in the first place when a DNR agent could just stroll up to the office and say, "Hey, we have a report that you have a whitetail fawn here.  Is that true? Do you know its a violation of Wisconsin law?" Another tactic would have been to wait 24 hours and the problem would have gone away.  The fawn was scheduled to be shipped to an animal rehab shelter in Illinois the very next day, a state where possession of a wild animal is not illegal. And finally, why show up with thirteen armed agents?  It's an animal shelter for God's sake, not a Taliban stronghold.  We are in the process of adopting a new pup from the rescue shelter and none of the employees look like ex members of the Crips of Bloods and none appeared to be carrying.  They actually seemed to be mild mannered, caring people that were interested in animal welfare. 

Once this whole international shitstorm erupted, the really smart thing for the DNR to have done would have been to put out a statement saying that they had screwed up, screwed up badly, apologize, and state that they were looking at methods and policies to prevent a reoccurrence.  Instead they put out two press releases on their Facebook page that attempt to justify the raid in one of the lamest fashions imaginable.  Shortly after the second one was issued the FB page was taken down.  It has since been restored.

The Department of Natural Resources in Wisconsin has had an image problem for years, some of it deserved and much of it not.  I just received my Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine which had great articles on restoring rivers and harbors, bringing back the sturgeon, and stories on a couple of our outstanding state parks.  We have plenty of cops, how about focusing the agency on the real threats to our state?  My friend from England, a police officer, was taken aback when I pointed out that we could be pulled over by a State Trooper, county sheriff, city cop, park police, or even the tribal police. It befuddled him how they could keep the jurisdictions straight.  I am personally a hell of a lot more concerned about them hauling all the sand in Chippewa County out to the Bakken Field, GTAC leveling the Penokees, or even more closely monitoring the crap that fouled the rivers and harbors described in the WNR mag article than I am whether some animal shelter is a transit stop for a fawn. I would much rather have wardens monitoring those areas, documenting violations that actually impact the public good, than this stupid waste of resources, including court time, in Kenosha.  Heck, they even wasted Gov. Walker and all of his cabinet secretary's time when he needs to stay focused on his nationally renowned job creation efforts.  We had a conversation last week as we patched up the BadHatter, who was attacked by a rogue kayak rudder on Miner's Beach. A retired DNR professional in the group commented that he had a lot more training on how to shoot people over the years than he did on patching them up.  They hit the range far more frequently than the CPR/First Aid classes, even though he had rendered first aid to a significantly larger number of people than he had shot.  When I worked in the DA's office in Eau Claire about 40 years ago, the wardens were always the most interesting guys that came by the office.  Even though I knew a few renegade game law violators that looked askance at the wardens, the general perception was that they were there to help out.  Even my buddy, SilenceOfTheLambChop up in Minocqua, is questioning his volunteer work for the loon project since it serves the same knuckleheads that bring you wolf hunting, bear hunting with dogs, and other shaky activities.  We need to get back to that image of the DNR warden and put an end to the stupidity and incredible waste of resources that occurred in mid July down in Kenosha. Stop worrying about form and get dialed in on functional policies.  The Giggles incident did not border on the ridiculous, it was well beyond the border.

Disclaimer: That is not Giggles at the top of the post, it's a fawn that stopped and dropped on Lake O'Brien Rd one evening as I was heading to camp.  It was motionless, accepted fawn procedure when encountering potential threats, and I spotted mom about 30 yards in the woods watching anxiously. My guess is that whoever picked up the 'abandoned' fawn had a freaked out mom watching somewhere.  Leave nature alone people!  If the fawn was abandoned it would likely make a nutritious meal for a bear, coyote, or some other predator.  That's how nature works and its worked pretty well over the millennia.

Also the heavily armed gentleman in the images is not a member of the DNR or the Kenosha Sheriffs Dept. either.  It's No2 son on his all expenses paid government sponsored trip to iraq in 2004.  Just wanted to clear that up.
The frac sand image was heisted off the web and shot by Jim Tittle for Midwest Energy News

1 comment:

Nan said...

That raid was the inevitable consequence of militarizing any and all law enforcement agencies. Law enforcement gets so many military-type goodies that sooner or later they feel compelled to use them.

You're right -- it was a problem that could have been resolved with a phone call, or, even simpler, procrastination.