Police shoot fawn - avoidable if our local sanctuary had more support!

Your contribution can help keep other fawns from being shot on the roadside by impatient police. Please support the only wildlife sanctuary in Western Quebec.
Greg Searle
Chelsea, Quebec
1 Team Member


This campaign is intended to avoid future incidents like that of September 9, when my family was threatened with arrest as we tried to find veterinarian care and sanctuary for a fawn injured in a road accident in Chelsea, Quebec. 

Our family later learned that if the police officer hadn't shot the fawn, a local permitted sanctuary would have arrived to evaluate the deer. They would then have been able to either rehabilitate it, or euthanize it humanely.

It is sad that the only permitted wildlife sanctuary in Western Quebec are forced to keep a low profile, because they do not have the resources to treat all the injured animals in our region. Your contribution will go towards helping the sanctuary accept more wounded animals. Given the expansion of Autoroute 5 through former park and farmland, WITH NO ANIMAL UNDERPASSES, the number of vehicle-injured animals in the Outaouais will only increase in 2014, and to avoid the police shooting animals that can be rehabilitated we need somewhere for them to go.

The Sanctuary

The Cushing Nature Foundation at the International School for Earth Studies in Thorne, Quebec, is a nature education center established in 1994 that rescues indigenous and orphaned wildlife, engages in domestic animal husbandry, promotes environmental awareness, and connects people with the Land.

Greg's Story

I was driving down Route105 near my house in Chelsea when I came around a corner and had to brake to avoid hitting a baby fawn lying on the road, freshly hit. I carried it kicking to the shoulder of the road, and tried to comfort the poor thing. After it calmed down a little it became apparent that the fawn wasn’t going to expire on the spot – it had a couple scratches with no other visible wounds, but it couldn’t use its back legs. It might have had internal injuries, but there was no evidence of that one way or the other. 

My 6-year-old daughter Ashiah and Samantha were waiting at home for me with a picnic all laid out, so it was with some reluctance that I asked them to come to the scene of the accident. Samantha has lots more experience with hurt animals than I do, I reasoned. 

While the women whose car had struck the deer and I sat with the poor animal, Officer Roy from the local MRC pulled up. We were all on our cellphones with various agencies trying to figure out which one would take a hurt fawn, and the officer politely explained that it was his job to put an end to the deer’s suffering. We started to debate how badly hurt the baby deer was, with the officer stating that it was clearly mortally wounded and all the bystanders arguing that it might just be a broken leg or two. “How can you be sure it’s going to die?” Samantha asked. “Are you a vet?” He admitted he wasn’t, but he was adamant that it was going to die and that he had no choice but to shoot it. I later learned from his personal Facebook page that he is an avid deer hunter, so perhaps that gave him special insight into the deer’s condition, but it certainly wasn’t obvious to the citizens gathered there that day that the deer’s injuries were mortal. 

“Let us find someone who can assess its wounds”, we suggested. “I can’t do that”, he said, starting to get visibly irritated. “You need to move aside so I can end its suffering.” Just then, Samantha got through to a local vet who agreed to look at the fawn on the condition that afterwards it would have to be taken by a local sanctuary, specially permitted to rehabilitate deer. But our calls to the sanctuary to find out if it had the space to take the deer only reached voicemail. “We have a vet who will see the deer, and maybe a place to take the deer after”, we said. “Just give us more time to try to get through to the sanctuary.”

Officer Roy wouldn’t have any of it, and at this point he moved over the deer and asked us to back away. Samantha stood over the baby deer and told him he was making the wrong decision. “Even if it’s your job to end it’s suffering”, she said, “you have the discretion to give us some time to try to find someone qualified to help it first. I worked as a civilian with the police for two years, and did plenty of ride-alongs, and I know other cops who wouldn’t rush this.” 

Officer Roy disagreed, and then said he was going to have to arrest Samantha. “If you don’t move, you will end up with a criminal record”, he threatened. He repeated the threat several times. They argued like this for a few minutes, getting more and more agitated, and my daughter (who had been petting the fawn in an attempt to calm it) became very frightened and threw her arms around my legs. I asked the officer to calm down, but he wasn’t interested in talking any more. He called in for backup and told Samantha that it was her final warning. 

Samantha took Ashiah to the car and drove off crying, so our little girl didn’t have to see the animal die. The officer stood over the fawn, which was no longer panting and was sitting quietly at the edge of the road looking into the woods – maybe for it mother. I took the picture above of Officer Roy shooting the baby deer. I’ve had to put animals out of their misery in the past, too, but I must admit that I couldn’t understand the officer’s haste and inflexibility. 

Later, we got in touch with the specially permitted wildlife sanctuary we were trying to reach by the road side Monday, the Cushing Nature Foundation at the International School for Earth Studies in Thorne, Quebec. They said they WOULD HAVE TAKEN THE BABY DEER if we'd managed to get through to them - but that they can't take all animals injured in our region because  they don't have the capacity. So the fawn didn't necessarily need to die, legally, if the officer involved hadn't been so impatient. Maybe the sanctuary people would have made a qualified assessment that the baby deer wouldn't survive rehabilitation attempts, but now we'll never know.

Sign the petition

I invite you to also sign a petition we've created to change the police protocol in Quebec for dealing with such situations. 
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This campaign ended on October 31, 2013
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