Game wardens shot and killed a mule deer that a family kept as a pet in Ulysses, Kansas, on Dec.19, 2016 (video below).
Kim Mcgaughey told The Wichita Eagle that the deer "was like one of the family," and had been the family pet for 22 months.
"I couldn’t believe it," Kim’s daughter, Taryn, told The Independent. "One shot to the head would have been enough but then he shot her in the leg and four times in the back. He treated her like target practice."
"She was a very much a big pet," Kim told The Wichita Eagle. "There was no reason for her to be killed. Her being domesticated was her own doing. She chose to stay. I never kept her from going away and being with other deer."
Taryn recalled: "She was just like a dog. She’d put her face up to you to be petted. I have pictures of us laying together out in the yard."
However, it is illegal in the state to keep a mule deer as a pet.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism defended the game wardens' killing of the animal to protect people and stop possible disease from being spread.
Mark Rankin, law enforcement assistant director for the wildlife department, went into detail:
In these cases our officers have to decide what options there are. That might be to relocate the animal, release it back into the wild or take it to some kind of rehab facility. Unfortunately once they’ve become imprinted on people, (euthanasia) is almost always the final outcome. Our officers on the scene felt (shooting the deer) was about their only option.
One of the officers on the video is seen defending shooting the deer in the head because that's how cattle are killed.
Kim said her neighbors had kept the deer as a fawn for about a year before she adopted the animal in March 2014.
Kim said she spoke to a game warden in 2014: "He told me as long as the deer was not confined, and wasn’t kept in any kind of enclosure, I was fine. Legal."
However, when Kim mentioned on Facebook on Dec. 9, 2016, that she had not seen her deer for several days (she let him roam wild); that posting eventually found its way back to authorities.
According to Rankin, game wardens cited Kim at her workplace on Dec. 19, 2016, for "unlawful possession of wildlife without a permit."
Later that day, three game wardens came to Kim's house, and decided it would be not be safe for themselves to capture the deer, and they could not find a vet to tranquilize the deer.
Taryn filmed the game wardens as they followed the deer around on her family's property, and killed it.
Kim said the deer was killed by the wardens less than an hour after they cited her at work. Kim had called a zoo that was possibly open to the idea of taking the deer, but the correct contact person had left for the day.
"After having her 22 months, they couldn’t even give us 12 hours to try to take her to a sanctuary," Taryn stated. "They said they were worried about our safety, but cats and dogs carry more diseases than any deer ever would."