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'Charlotte the Deer' Gets a Governor's Pardon

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on December 19, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It's a Christmas miracle! Despite not being of the rein variety, Charlotte the deer has been saved!

Or at least pardoned. She can thank Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker -- and her original savior, Marvin Graaf.

Graaf rescued baby Charlotte 15 months ago after her mother was hit by a car. He nursed her with a bottle and puppy formula while trying to find her a good home. But then the state's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) stepped in.

Wildlife refuges wouldn't take Charlotte for fear of Chronic Wasting Disease, which the Chicago Tribune reports is plaguing the state's herds. But the DNR decided Graaf couldn't keep her either.

They threatened him with 8 months in jail and a $2,000 fine if he didn't turn her over. But when he found out they wanted to kill her, he refused.

The Tribune got involved, leading to a public outcry. On Friday, Gov. Walker directed the state agency to save the deer.

Charlotte's quite lucky to be saved. And that Walker had the power to do it.

Executive agencies and departments like the DNR ultimately answer to the governor (or in the federal government, the president). Walker thus has the power to instruct the DNR to act in matters of discretion.

The fate of Charlotte the deer clearly fell into this category.

There is no word on what will ultimately become of the Charlotte, but she is unlikely to go back into the wild. Seems she's found a very comfortable life on Graaf's farm.

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