YORK, Pa. – An effort fueled by good intentions to save a deer this weekend has taken an unpleasant turn for a Pennsylvania man.
John Stoll Jr. was leaving his house near a lake at Gifford Pinchot State Park in York County on Saturday when a friend told him that several deer had fallen through the ice. They were stuck in frigid water.
By the time Stoll got there, a few of the deer had made it across the lake, near a bridge.
The 54-year-old helped lead at least three deer back onto the bank.
The deer were reportedly stuck in the water for hours, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
Stoll said there was another deer on the other side of the lake.
The buck was being pulled onto the bank by rescuers and the fire department when Stoll arrived. It was trembling and cold. Stoll said he couldn’t stand to see the deer suffering and offered to take the buck home.
“Nobody said I couldn’t take it,” Stoll said.
He got help loading the buck into his work truck and hightailed it back to the garage at his home to try and keep the buck warm.
In a thread of Facebook videos, Stoll and his stepson are seen aiding the buck by trying to keep it warm with blankets and gently petting it to calm its nerves.
Many people on Facebook were rooting for the buck’s recovery and asked to be updated on its status.
The buck seemed to be getting better, but it took a turn for the worse and died in the early hours of Sunday morning. Stoll buried it.
“We were so devastated that he didn’t make it,” Stoll said.
That wasn’t all of the bad news Stoll would have to face, though. On Monday afternoon, a Game Commission warden told him that he would be fined for taking and keeping the deer in his garage.
Stoll said Wildlife Resource Officer Tim Wenrich told him he should have left the deer where it was until the Game Commission could assess the buck during Saturday’s rescue and decide whether they’d leave the deer on its own or euthanize it.
“I would have definitely preferred that the deer been left in (its initial) place,” Wenrich said.
According to the PA Game Commission’s website,” Wildlife taken alive may not be retained alive, sold or given away. Live wildlife may be relocated to a natural setting.”
Stoll said he was told that there are two fines he could get and one could be up to $800.
Stoll’s frustrations stem mostly from the delay in being reprimanded for something he didn’t think was wrong.
“If they didn’t want me to take that deer, why didn’t they come to my house right as soon as I got home (Saturday)?” Stoll said.
Stoll said he had no intention of keeping the deer and planned to let the buck out of his garage once it was back to good health.
Stoll plans to fight the fine, which he expects to get in the mail.
“I just wanted to do something good for a deer,” Stoll said.
He said there is apparently an online fundraiser to help him offset the costs of the fine and court fees. Stoll doesn’t mind being helped, but he plans to donate at least some of the money back to an organization that helps animals.
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