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DNR stands by policy on wild animals

March 23, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

A Maryland Department of Natural Resources official said the incident involving Bucky the deer has not caused the agency to re-examine its policies on wild animals, although he said there were some miscommunication in the incident.

Paul Peditto, director of DNR's wildlife and heritage service, said Monday there was confusion between various DNR officials and Kevin and Starla Hall, the couple who took the deer into their home for several days last month.

"I take responsibility for not being able to properly communicate to the Halls our intention," Peditto said. "In the end, it's my job to make sure they fully understood the implications."

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Peditto said there will "positively not" be changes to policies banning residents from having wild animals in their possession without permits or the rehabilitation of such animals because of concern about behavior and diseases.

The Halls, of Antietam Drive just outside Hagerstown, found Bucky in the street near Godlove's Liquors on Feb. 15. The Halls said the deer appeared dazed and injured, so they took it into their home.

Kevin Hall said different officials offered various solutions to the situation, including at one point a plan to rehabilitate the young deer. Told by state officials that the deer would have to be euthanized, Hall and two men drove Bucky to a fish and game club on Feb. 19 and released it.

Kirstie Alley, who starred in the NBC-TV sitcoms "Cheers" and "Veronica's Closet," was among those who called in support of Bucky after a story on the deer ran on the "Today" show.

"We had a positive conversation in that she recognized we were doing our best to make sure the public and the Halls were informed," he said.

Peditto said the national focus on the story and the backlash of angry callers made dealing with the matter more difficult.

"For 24 hours, all we did was respond to phone calls from around the country rather than use our time on something better spent, like talking directly to the people involved," he said.

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