Wisconsin lawmaker says DNR put firefighters at risk over ‘stupid deer’ stranded on frozen lake
MADISON — A Wisconsin legislator who doubles as a firefighter ripped the state Department of Natural Resources for persuading his department to rescue a deer stranded on a frozen lake, saying the agency put them at risk over a “stupid deer.”
Republican Rep. Adam Jarchow tweeted Tuesday that a DNR warden “harassed” Apple River firefighters into rescuing the deer, which had wandered out onto Balsam Lake. Jarchow said he would fire the warden tomorrow if he could for “being complicit in putting firefighters at risk, over a stupid deer.”
“This is a complete embarrassment and a joke,” tweeted Jarchow, an outspoken critic of the DNR who is a member of the Apple River Fire Department but didn’t take part in the rescue.
The DNR posted a glowing news release about the incident on its website Tuesday. The release praised Warden Jesse Ashton for organizing a team of wardens and local firefighters to rescue the deer, saying “Those little hooves are no match for slick surfaces!”
The deer got a ride to shore and then ran off, the release said. It goes on to thank members of the Apple River and Amery fire departments.
“Teamwork strikes again!” the release said. It didn’t offer any further details.
Apple River Fire Chief Alec Adams told The Associated Press by phone Wednesday that the Polk County Sheriff’s Department contacted him Sunday asking whether his department could save the deer. He told the department he didn’t want to put firefighters at risk for a deer, adding that his department doesn’t have a boat and the deer was 500 yards out on the lake.
A DNR warden later called him and asked him to rescue the deer. This time he agreed. He declined to elaborate on the discussion.
He contacted the Amery Fire Department, which has a boat. His firefighters tethered themselves to the boat, went out on the ice and rescued the deer, he said.
DNR spokesman Andrew Savagian had no immediate comment. Jarchow, who is from the village of Balsam Lake, didn’t immediately reply to a voicemail Wednesday.
The DNR took heated criticism in 2013 after wardens seized a fawn named Giggles from a Kenosha animal shelter and euthanized it. An Illinois family brought Giggles to the shelter thinking the mother had abandoned it. DNR officials said the shelter couldn’t keep the deer and it couldn’t go back to the wild because it came from an area with chronic wasting disease.
The criticism drove Republican Gov. Scott Walker to direct the agency to find less contentious ways of handling captive deer.