Ongoing family deer vs. DNR saga continues - News, Weather & Sports

Ongoing family deer vs. DNR saga continues

Lilly on a couch, hanging out in the family room. Lilly on a couch, hanging out in the family room.

WNEM TV5's story about Lilly the domesticated deer has drawn national and international attention.

TV5 has received calls from all over the world seeking video of our story, but you can see it here exclusively at

The latest twist to the story is that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources isn't backing down from its threat to remove Lilly the deer from her family.

The DNR says it's illegal to keep the deer in their home, even though she's been a family pet for the past five years.

Now the DNR says Lily must be put back into the wild or be put down.

"Deer are wild animals," said Brent Rudolph, with the DNR's Deer and Elk program. "Even when they're accustomed to being around people, they can still be very unpredictable."

TV5 first reported on Lilly the deer last Friday. She's the deer that was born in the front yard of a Genesee County home five years ago after her mother was hit by a car. As the mother deer lay dying she gave birth to two fawns, one died, the other was in rough shape.

She's been raised as a member of the family ever since, just like one of the dogs and cats.

The story of Lilly's plight has generated hundreds and hundreds of emails and Facebook postings. But that outpouring of support may not be enough to save her.

"There are laws on the books that state we can't take wild animals and turn them into private property, so the department has to work within the constraints that the laws that establish what we can and can't do as well," said Rudolph.

The DNR says deer might look cute and cuddly, but in a blink of an eye, they can be deadly.

"People don't realize, you know, the strength and how sharp their hooves can be and other things," said Rudolph. "It doesn't take more than a quick lash of a hoof to cause pretty serious damage, [which] most people don't think about because they see a very gentle looking animal."

The DNR says even though you may feel like you are doing the right thing, it is best for the animals that we leave them alone.

"It's a good opportunity for us to remind people whether it's an animal hit by a car or a fawn you find in your yard, it's very common for people to believe they're doing the right thing by taking a fawn in, but whether it's a situation like this or simply a case of being unprepared in general to deal with it, it's not something we can allow to happen without any type of restriction," said Rudolph.

Neighbors in the area have no problem with the couple having a Lilly, but according to the homeowners, that changed when a neighbor's guest saw her and that person apparently called the DNR.

Now it looks like Lilly will be taken from the only home she has ever known. Or will she? On Tuesday, TV5's Erik Horn is speaking with a person who knows of other instances where the DNR has allowed domesticated deer to live with families in our state -- hear more from him tonight starting at 5.

Copyright 2013 WNEM (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

  • WAVE 3 Online Poll

  • Should Lilly be taken away from her family?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Yes, they broke the law
    273 votes
    No, she's a part of the family
    5768 votes
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