Deputies in Athens County found a pet deer while searching a home in Nelsonville Friday. The sheriff said he received multiple tips about the house on Happy Hollow Road. When deputies arrived, they found a baby deer inside a bedroom.
Wildlife officials said it's a problem they deal with more often during this time of year.
"Most of the times people take it inside, care for it and then help it themselves because they think it's been abandoned," said Lindsay Rist, a wildlife communications specialist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife. "The best thing they can do is put it back outside where it came from."
Rist said this time of year is when fawns are typically born. The mother will often leave her young alone while she forages so people will often think it's been abandoned.
"They have good intentions, most people do," she said.
Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith said his deputies find someone with a wild animal as a pet a couple times every year.
"Believe it or not, throughout the State of Ohio, alligators are one of the number one animals that they have to come get," Smith said. "Either to have some with a pet deer or a part animal that are illegal to keep without permits is that uncommon."
Rist said the person who had the fawn gave it to wildlife officers right away so he wasn't charged, but it's still illegal. The fawn was released back into the wild where it will likely reunite with its mother quickly since it was only gone for two days. Rist said even if the fawn can't find it's mother, often another doe will adopt it as her own.
"They were born in the wild," Rist said. "They'll do the best in the wild because that's the native habitat. Even if people have good intentions the best place for them is the backyard."