VESTABURG, Mich. - The sisters from Montcalm County who took four fawns into their home are sharing their side of the story first with FOX 17. They say they never intended to keep the deer as pets.
Karen Hofstetter, 25, said Thursday she intends to fully pay her $575 fine after she pleaded guilty for one count of deer parts possession, in exchange to drop the three others which totalled $4,000 in possible fines. She and her sister Chelsea say they were raised being taught to help animals in need, and felt they were doing so in this case.
“We saved the fawn, called the DNR, they told us there was nothing they could do and to put it back where we found it," said Hofstetter. "I wasn’t putting it back in the dog’s mouth, and I wasn’t putting it back in the middle of the river, that doesn’t work for me.”
The sisters found the four fawns during two trips kayaking the Pine River near their Vestaburg home
Hofstetter says she and Chelsea rescued the first fawn mid May from a neighbor's dog, though she says she gave this fawn to a cousin to care for it.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources Officer Josh Russell told Hofstetter to immediately return the fawn. He explained that does initially leave their newborn fawn to avoid passing on any scent, but return to care for them.
Then, one week later, the girls say they found triplet fawns and again thought they needed help, finding them in a puddle crying.
"They were crying, I didn’t know the mom was going to come back," said Hofstetter's sister Chelsea. “Yeah we took them because we figured we were saving them, but in reality obviously we weren’t. And I definitely regret it now that lesson learned.”
The pictures Hofstetter posted on Facebook-a selfie with one fawn, then three fawns inside her bedroom-without context were damning. She says they never intended to keep them as pets, and gave the three to family friends who were trained to raise deer.
“As soon as we got back here, I called, they were gone within an hour and a half, my mom didn’t even know they were here until I showed her a picture and she freaked right out," said Hofstetter. "I was like, ‘they’re gone! We ain’t got no pets, they’re gone!’”
The sisters apologized but said they were frustrated with the DNR banging on their door early in the morning.
“They were all mad because I argued with them and told them off here but it’s like 7:30 in the morning, you’re pounding on the door like the damn SWAT team," said Hofstetter. "Who’s not going to have an attitude when you can hear them over the generator?”
Taking her anger to Facebook, Hofstetter posted a series of vulgar statements toward the DNR, then wrote a final threat saying she would kill wild animals from this point on. She says she regrets it and never meant it.
“I’ve never actually killed an animal in my life in all honesty, I don’t know if I could, and I’m sorry I posted it," she said.
Lessons learned to not intervene with nature.
“People can be haters and drink their haterade and have whatever assumption of me, I don’t care," said Hofstetter. "I know who I am and I sleep okay at night knowing that I tried.”