When enforcement officers from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) learned of the incident, Dunsmore was charged with illegal possession of the deer, which were removed from his property and euthanized. Results of laboratory tests for pathogens or diseases are pending.
ADCNR's Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF) prohibits the keeping of most wildlife in captivity for several reasons, public safety being foremost. Even small wildlife, such as raccoons, skunks and foxes can carry a wide variety of parasites and pathogens that can prove fatal to domestic animals and humans.
According to WFF Enforcement Chief Kevin Dodd, domesticated deer pose serious threats to the public, especially when bucks become combative during breeding season. "At certain times of the year, it's natural for bucks to fight among themselves. When you put them in captivity, they do the same thing with humans. Does can also inflict serious injuries by kicking."¯ Dodd says reintroducing domesticated deer into the wild is not an option as they normally return to inhabited areas where human conflicts occur. Illegally held captive deer in Alabama have caused numerous serious injuries and one fatality in recent years.
Dodd says evidence indicates that some of Dunsmore's deer came from Tennessee and at least one came from Guntersville State Park. Illegally importing deer from other states puts native deer populations at risk by potentially bringing in pathogens and diseases such as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). "No Alabama deer has tested positive for CWD and we want to keep it that way,"¯ Dodd said. "Preventing the importation of deer from other states is one way to do that."¯
WFF law enforcement officers urge the public's cooperation in preventing potential harm to others by identifying persons who are illegally holding deer or other wildlife in captivity. If you have information regarding illegal captive deer, please call 1-800-272-GAME (4263).