A Victorian teenager is fighting in court to stop authorities killing a rescued baby sambar deer.
Andrew Foots, 19, took in the fawn, which he named Rudolph, after he spotted it alone and skinny in bushland at Goughs Bay, near Mansfield, northeast of Melbourne.
But, according to an article in the Herald Sun, authorities seized the deer and carted it away in a police patrol wagon about a week later.
According to the article, the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources won a court order on Friday to kill Rudolph, believing it could pose a danger to public safety.
Mr Foots appealed the decision. Jirrahlinga Koala and Wildlife Sanctuary has volunteered to take the deer.
The department is holding Rudolph at a secret location until the appeal in February, fearing it could be stolen. Andrew Foots hopes to see Rudolph go to a sanctuary.
Mr Foots‚Äô lawyer, Phoenix Legal Solutions principal Daniel Beecher, said the department wanted its ‚Äúpound of flesh‚Äù.
‚ÄúThe reasons for killing a deer, or any animal, under these circumstances are difficult to understand when there is a nonlethal alternative that would provide so much good to so many,‚Äù he said.
Mr Foots, a farmhand who has reared about 1000 goats, could face criminal charges for adopting the deer.
But he said both he and his mother visited a local vet for advice on how to care for the sambar fawn and were told they didn‚Äôt need a wildlife permit.
Mr Foots fed Rudolph every three hours and slept beside him so that the sound of his heartbeat could keep the fawn calm at night.
‚ÄúHe was a part of the family,‚Äù Mr Foots said. ‚ÄúI would like to see him go to a sanctuary.‚Äù
Animal Cruelty Hotline Australia chief investigator Barrie Tapp said people should be encouraged to help wildlife, not leave them struggling.
‚ÄúPeople can‚Äôt just walk away from animals dying of starvation,‚Äù he said.
A spokesman for the Game Management Authority, a division of the department, said he couldn‚Äôt comment on a case before the courts.