CONCORD, N.C., Jan. 21 (UPI) -- A North Carolina restaurant owner apologized for bringing a roadkill deer into the eatery, saying the animal's meat was never meant for sale.
A woman contacted police Sunday after taking pictures of someone taking a roadkill deer into the China Fun restaurant in Concord and the case was handed over to the Cabarrus County Health Department.
Health department investigators arrived to find the deer being butchered.
"We went there and found, indeed, they had slaughtered a deer, or were cutting up a dead deer in the back of the parking lot and had already brought parts inside, into the sink," County Health Director William Pilkington told WSOC-TV.
"The most important part of this story is how good the Concord Police Department was with this situation" Pilkington told the Cabarrus Independent Tribune. "They called us immediately, which is good because it could have been much worse."
Sunny Chen, owner of the China Fun restaurant, said he was the one in the photos taken by the witness. He said he brought the carcass to the restaurant because he had never eaten deer and wanted to try it.
"We [were] not selling the deer," Chen said. "I tried to take it because I had never cooked deer before."
Chen said he was not clear about the rules regarding roadside deer carcasses.
"I asked somebody if I could eat deer from the side of the road. He said OK," Chen said. "But maybe it's not OK to bring it to the restaurant, so that's my mistake."
Pilkington said investigators from his department supervised the restaurant being cleaned after the incident. He said the health department will keep a close watch on China Fun in the future.
"There's nothing that can be done at this point in terms of shutting it down because there was no threat to the public's health," Pilkington said.
"The deer really never got inside the restaurant and there wasn't any public health significance or threat," he said. "But he is a certified restaurant owner. He knows the rules."
Chen apologized for the incident.
"I will never do it again," he said.