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Published: Friday, 6/11/2010

The Bambi effect

Surely the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has better things to do than contemplate pressing charges against a Toledo police officer for trying to save the life of a baby deer.

Sgt. Mark Fry and University of Toledo officer Brian Boerst saved the unborn fawn - giving it the breath of life - after its mother was hit by a car last month. When a Nature's Nursery volunteer said his rescue agency wouldn't take the deer, Mr. Fry made a humanitarian - albeit misguided - choice: Rather than release the newborn to certain death, he took the fawn to his house and cared for it in the hope he could find it a permanent home.

That's gotten him in trouble with the state wildlife agency, which says it's against the law to possess or rehabilitate white-tailed deer. Even after the fawn got free and ran away from Mr. Fry's Springfield Township home - a likely death sentence - the ODNR has continued to investigate.

State laws that regulate wildlife are designed to protect wild animals as well as people and should be obeyed. If Mr. Fry took the fawn home knowing he was breaking the law, he has no excuse. But no law will convince Ohioans that Mr. Fry was wrong to try to save a cute baby animal that undoubtedly would have died had he and Mr. Boerst not been there.

As Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre wisely pointed out, prosecuting Mr. Fry would be a public relations disaster for the ODNR. In the court of public opinion, saving babies trumps the law. Call it the Bambi effect.

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