SUMMERS COUNTY, (Hinton News) – When an animal comes into our lives, they often become like family. One Summers County family is currently missing their deer, Twitch. According to Twitch’s human family, the deer was allegedly confiscated by the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Jodi Miller, who cared for the animal, says she just wants to know if the deer is alright.
According to Miller, she and her husband rescued Twitch when they found her as a fawn near a tall cliff. She stated that there was no sign of the mother, and they feared the small deer would fall off the cliff. They believe Twitch was only a few days old at the time. They took her home, where the deer has lived ever since.
Fast forward to November 2022, approximately one and a half years after finding Twitch. Miller stated that earlier this month, she came home to find the deer injured. The doe appeared to have been shot in the hindquarters. Miller said they believe the weapon to have been either a low-caliber firearm or a practice arrow.
Twitch wore an orange bandana in an attempt to keep her safe. Miller said the bandana was supposed to signify to hunters not to shoot the deer.
Police were contacted and further reached out to an animal rescue contact regarding Twitch’s health. The young doe was given the all-clear, and life resumed. On November 9, the DNR received a complaint, which led to two officers removing the deer from that location.
Andy Malinoski, Director, Marketing and Communications provided a statement saying, “On November 9, 2022, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources responded to a complaint involving the illegal possession of a white-tailed deer at a residence located in Summers County. The female deer, estimated to be one and a half years old, was removed from the residence. The incident remains under investigation.”
According to West Virginia State Code 20-2-3, it is prohibited to own any wildlife. The statement provided by Malinoski notes that this protects the animals as well as humans.
“The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources reminds people that possessing wildlife without a permit is illegal. Further, live white-tailed deer may not be removed from the wild and possessed for any purpose. Removing and handling wild animals presents a health and safety risk to both humans and wildlife.” The statement goes on to say, “Removing wild animals from their natural environment and holding them in captivity under artificial conditions creates risks to both wildlife and people. Wildlife taken into captivity increase the potential for disease transmission and create elevated concerns relating to human health and safety.”
The statement also talks specifically about white-tailed deer.
“When raised in captivity and habituated to humans, white-tailed deer lose their innate ability to survive in the wild and avoid contact with people. This creates particular concern during the breeding season when deer exhibit more aggressive behavior. There are numerous accounts of ‘tame’ deer being turned loose and causing injury to people. For these health and safety reasons, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources strongly encourages the public to avoid close contact with wildlife.”
Miller stated even though Twitch lived at/near her residence, she did not own the deer. While Miller did register the deer as an emotional support animal, the doe was allegedly free to come and go as she pleased.
Twitch’s story has garnered attention from across the country. A Facebook page titled Twitch Fan Club makes regular posts regarding the deer and this situation. Individuals from as far away as Arizona are sending emails and making calls on behalf of the deer. Miller said, more than anything, they want to know that Twitch is still alive and healthy.
The Facebook group, though private, contains a multitude of photos and calls for help to get Twitch back.
To learn more about West Virginia’s laws regarding wildlife, visit code.wvlegislature.gov