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Family, Neighbors Upset After Officials Kill Pet Deer

REEDS SPRING, Mo. -- A family and their close friends are upset after a deer they all cared for was put down by officials.
REEDS SPRING, Mo. -- A family and their close friends are upset after a deer they all cared for was put down by officials last week.

The deer was shot after an investigation by Conservation Department officials, who said it was obvious the deer had too much contact with humans to be let back into the wild.

"I don't care if it is Missouri law, they could've given this animal a chance," Veda Howard said.

The deer's care has been a group effort. It was found near his mother after she was hit by a car, according to Howard.

Buckley, as they called the deer, was being looked after in a large enclosed space on a farm near Reeds Spring. 

"I bottle-fed him, and cut up his food every day," Jessica Tincahm said.

Howard said the deer was very popular with neighbors.

"He never hurt anyone," Howard said. "Why couldn't they put him in a petting zoo?"

An investigation into the deer's new living arrangement came after a complaint.

"They told us they were going to take him to a better place. We didn't know a bullet would be involved," Tincahm said.

"It could've been very dangerous for us to have let this animal loose because it has mixed messages about how to interact with humans," Danton Letterman, a Stone County Conservation supervisor, said.

Letterman said letting the deer go wasn't an option.

"It's illegal to take animals, in the state of Missouri, out of the  wild," Letterman said. "They put us in a tough spot. This isn't a situation I enjoy -- at all."

"I don't care what their laws are," Howard said. "They killed him in his home where he was raised."

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