A Snowball’s Chance in …Oregon

by Tim Lyman

Every once in a while we are granted the opportunity to see just how big an mistake a bureaucrat can make. Unfortunately, these opportunities always come at the expense of citizens. Roy Elicker, director of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, provides the latest example.

Six years ago Franchesca Mantei and Jim Filipetti of Molalla rescued an injured fawn. Snowball was lying on the side of the road by Mantei’s house as she drove her children to school. The young deer’s back legs were badly deformed, causing the hooves to cut into the skin every time the deer tried to take a step. Every two weeks for six months, Mantei took the deer to a veterinarian, who fitted it with special casts to correct the deformation, and Snowball learned to walk better. She and her partner Jim Filipetti spent thousands of dollars on veterinary bills and cared for the deer inside his home for the first year of her life.

Last week, after receiving a report from an anonymous tipster (read: neighbor with a grudge) and citing the law that makes it illegal to possess wildlife without a permit, ODFW seized the Filipetti’s family pet Snowball and her yearling son, Bucky.

But the law also provides for exceptions for “other organizations or individuals that the director determines to be involved in scientific, educational, or conservation efforts of overwhelming benefit to wildlife or wildlife habitat in the state of Oregon.”

For those of you who don’t speak bureaucratese, that means that Director Elicker can resolve the situation by granting an exception and returning their deer any time he pleases.

Unfortunately, the Director, like most bureaucrats, doesn’t seem to be equipped with the common sense most of us have to know that when we find ourselves at the bottom of a hole – stop digging! Instead of returning the deer and transferring the half-witted overzealous underlings who got him into this mess out of the field, he continues to dig a hole. A hole being paid for by the taxpayers and the Filipetti-Mantei family.

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