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Couple won't be charged in deer case

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After an Internet furor and a call for a review of the case by Gov. Mike Pence, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources said Friday it’s asking a prosecutor to drop misdemeanor charges against a Connersville couple who nursed an injured baby deer back to health.

The about-face drew praise from state Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

“I understood the DNR’s initial position, but I also believe that compassion and a reasonable outlook needed to be considered as well,” Eberhart said Friday after the fawn case seemed on its way to being resolved.

The DNR said it was seeking the dismissal of misdemeanor charges of illegal possession of a white-tailed deer against police officer Jeff Counceller and his wife, Jennifer.

Earlier this week, Pence had asked natural resources officials to revisit the fawn case. The governor said in asking for the DNR review: “We all admire compassion for an injured animal. Hoosiers cherish our


The couple found the injured deer in 2010. The DNR told the Councellers to return the ailing deer to the wild, but instead they took it home and nursed it back to health. The deer vanished last summer on the day when the DNR planned to euthanize the animal.

The case had sparked an Internet furor from people who thought the Councellers had been treated unfairly.

“I think we have the right resolution to the case. It looks like common sense won out,” Eberhart said Friday afternoon.

“Did the couple make a few mistakes? Yes, but this was a situation where discretion should have been used. The Councellers did what a majority of us would have done, and that’s take in a wounded and defenseless animal. All of us would be well-served to use that same level of compassion,” the Shelbyville representative said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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