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The saga of Lilly the domesticated deer came to an end on Monday as an agreement was announced that will let Lilly continue living with her family.
The family made the announcement through former Genesee County Judge Val Washington on Monday that an agreement was reached with the Michigan Department of Resources that will allow Lilly the deer to remain with her caretakers.
Lilly has spent the past five years with a Genesee County family after her mother was killed by a car but the DNR said earlier the family must give her up due to a state law that makes it illegal to keep deer as pets.
If you missed the details of the story, Lilly the deer's mother was hit and killed by a car five years ago.
As the mother deer lay dying she gave birth to two fawns, one died, the other was in rough shape.
Police were called and when asked if the homeowners could try to save the deer. The officer replied you can try although the fawn probably won't live more than 15 minutes.
Last week Lilly turned 5.
"Given Lilly's unique circumstances, the agreement represents the best possible outcome for her continued health and survival," said Washington.
Washington went on to say that the media was a big help in making this outcome possible.
Lilly's caretakers issued the following statement:
[We] recognize that the circumstances under which Lilly became a member of our household and hearts are unique and were not authorized by any rule of law of the state of Michigan. [We] recognize that their are rules and laws in the state of Michigan that govern the possession and ownership of wild animals and prohibit persons from taking wild animals from the wild and possessing them without a validly issued permit from the Department of Natural Resources. [We] strongly encourage all citizens of the state to leave wild animals in the wild and if they come into a circumstance where they are in possession of a wild animal, they should follow the rules and law of the state of Michigan that covers the possession and ownership of wild animals.
The DNR issued the following statements on the situation:
The Department of Natural Resources today announced that it has reached an agreement with the Genesee County family that has illegally housed a deer for approximately five years. Due to the extraordinary circumstances surrounding this situation, the agreement requires that in order for the deer to remain in the home, the home must be registered as a privately owned cervidae (deer/elk) facility. As operators of the facility, the family must adhere to the requirements of the Privately Owned Cervidae (POC) Producers Marketing Act (Act 190 of 2000).
Under this agreement, the home will be issued a POC exhibition class registration, which is a renewable permit valid for three years, and the family will be responsible to:
Have the deer tested for bovine tuberculosis by an accredited, state-approved veterinarian;
Pay the $450 registration and $250 application fee;
Ensure the facility is surrounded by a suitable fence;
Provide an annual report on the deer's health;
Honor a lifetime quarantine, meaning they will never house additional deer nor will they take this deer off-site at any time; and
Admit their knowledge of Michigan law that states possessing wildlife is illegal.
"This is an extraordinary situation in which, in violation of Michigan law, a wild animal was, unfortunately, kept for a very long period of time in a home environment," said DNR Director Keith Creagh.
"Initially, we were focused on finding a suitable, properly licensed facility where this deer could be in a natural setting," said Creagh. "However, after fully exploring the extent of this deer's habituation to people, we determined that it was highly unlikely for this deer to thrive, or even survive, if moved to a different setting."
According to DNR officials, this particular agreement in no way opens the door for other residents to pursue keeping and raising wildlife in their homes.
The DNR reminds residents that Michigan's wildlife belongs to the people of Michigan for everyone's collective enjoyment and conservation. It is in the animals' best interest to remain in the wild, where they can live as intended. It is against Michigan law to convert wildlife into private property, and it is illegal to hold wildlife without permits issued by the DNR.