VICTORIA, British Columbia, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- A Canadian woman is fighting to keep the pet deer she says she found 10 years ago as a fawn next to its dead mother.
Janet Schwartz, who lives on Vancouver Island, said she got a letter Tuesday from the British Columbia Ministry of Environment telling her the deer, Bimbo, must be returned to the wild, the Westerly News reported.
"I have no plans of releasing her, no way. I don't care if they charge me, I don't care if we have to go to jail, I'm going to keep her," she said. "I've had her for 10 years. She's my baby and I just can't let her go."
Schwartz said Bimbo, raised on goat's milk and used to being in and around her house, is "humanized" and unlikely to survive in the woods.
The ministry told Schwartz in 2009 she had to let Bimbo go. But for some reason there was no follow-up until officials got a recent anonymous complaint.
Environment Minister Terry Lake agreed the deer probably could not survive in the wild. But he said Bimbo should be in an animal rehabilitation facility where trained workers can try to prepare it for life on its own.
Lake said Schwartz is not giving the deer the right food and is keeping it in a dangerous environment.
"The deer is on a collar and a leash fitted to a tether that winds around the yard and the yard is strewn with old cars, old barbecues, old oil tanks, numerous bits of debris," he said.