Video: Man charged with raising deer in his home

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ONA, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A man is defending himself after facing charges of keeping wild animals in his home.

Ronnie Chapman says he found a deer bleeding to death in his yard a couple years ago and nursed it back to health.

Now he's accused of being too accommodating.

"I don't see where I've hurt anything or done anything wrong, but I sure paid for it," Chapman said.

After getting a complaint, DNR officers showed up at his home on Barker Ridge in Ona on the 4th of July. They say they found two bucks living in the home as pets.

However, Chapman claims the deer didn't live in the home.

He says they'd come and go as they'd please, and he says they were only allowed in the front part of the home, which serves more as a porch.

"If you leave the door open, my wife, they'll follow her through," Chapman said, "just come in and bum a piece of candy, and they're back out the door."

However, the DNR doesn't buy it.

"There was enough compelling evidence that showed they were living full-time in the home," Officer Joshua Addesa, who responded to the scene, said.

Chapman says he was in court Tuesday and had to pay a $300 fine.

"People trying to do the right thing can mess up nature's system," Addesa said.

Neighbor Carla Blake didn't mince words when coming to Chapman's defense.

"It's kind of stupid," Blake said. "We've got drug dealers all the way around this ridge, and they get a guy because he's got a deer in the house."

The two deer were taken out of the home Saturday. The younger one took off into the woods, but the other one was apparently not ready to leave the place he's known as home for so long. It was in Chapman's yard while we were there Tuesday evening.

Chapman says he's perplexed why he's being persecuted for doing what he felt was the right thing.

"He's not hurting anybody where he's at," Chapman said. "Why are they going to bother him? He'll come in rut one day, and he'll be gone. That's the way I look at it. Nature's going to take its course."

Addesa says fawns are less likely to survive when people interfere, and deer can be a danger to people when they're kept in confined spaces.

He says it may sound callous, but if you see an injured deer, you're encouraged to give the DNR a call and leave the animal alone.

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