In case you missed it recently, Thana Minion of remote Copco in
Siskiyou County, Calif., faces 30 days in jail.
Her crime? Feeding deer on her property near the Oregon border.
Sentencing has been delayed until this summer, which will give
Minion and her Yreka lawyer, William S. Cushman, time to file an
appeal. Minion was on probation for a similar offense a few years ago
(where she was jailed for a short time and allegedly scrawled a note
to the district attorney on her cell wall in her own blood,
according to Cushman).
The defense's case
Minion, Cushman contends, is the only person in California ever to
be prosecuted under Fish and Game Commission Regulations that prohibit
harassing and feeding deer saying others do it and Minion is being
unfairly singled out.
He also contends that the two regulations for which Minion was
prosecuted "are illegal and not enabled by legislation; that to
enforce them would deny a defendant due process of law because the
regulations were adopted without any legal justification ... "
That would be Fish and Game Regulation No. 251.1, which states:
"... no person shall harass, herd or drive any game or non-game bird
or mammal or fur-bearing mammal. For the purpose of this section,
harass is defined as an intentional act which disrupts an animal's
normal behavior patterns ...''
And Regulation 251.3, which states: "No person shall knowingly
feed big game mammals ...''
The DFG gives people who violate Regulation 251.3 seven days to
quit after a warning.
Minion had her chance sent by the DFG through registered mail
to stop. But, according to Cushman, it's not the food that had the
deer lining up for Minion's affections.
"Minion is known for spending hours daily carefully removing ticks
from the deer, all of which she knows by names she has given them, who
will come up and show her where the ticks are and lay their heads upon
her lap,'' Cushman's press release states.
The prosecution's case
According to Department of Fish and Game warden Brian Boyd,
Minion fed the resident deer COB, a mixture of corn, oats, barley and
For comparison sake, that's like setting out aged filet mignon
(medium rare), sun-ripened corn-on-the-cob and double-fudge chocolate
chip ice cream in front of former NFL lineman Tony Siragusa (a big
eater who is known as "Tony Bag of Doughnuts'').
But is 30 days too extreme a punishment?
Ask 3-year-old Sam Long of Middletown, Calif. He was playing in his
sandbox April 6 when a pregnant doe walked through an open gate,
head-butted and pummeled the little boy until he was finally able to
get up and run sandy and bleeding to his father, Keith, who was
operating a weed-eater and failed hear the little boy's screams for
After the attack, the doe calmly went about grazing in the Long's
yard only 30 feet from where Keith Long was attending to Sam's
wounds (fortunately, he was only bruised and scratched). When asked,
Sam said "Daisy attacked me,'' according to the DFG report.
Daisy is one of an estimated 300 hand-fed deer that have grown too
fat and indifferent to people living in the Hidden Valley subdivision
in Middletown. It's a place, like a lot of new rural housing tracts,
that's filled with good-natured, but meddling, suburbanites who
commute to work (in this case, Santa Rosa).
"In my opinion, deer fed like that become somewhat domesticated,''
said Capt. Mike Wade, head of enforcement in the DFG's Region 3. "In
my opinion, when deer become domesticated, it leads to compromising
Daisy, by the way, was dispatched by a single round of double-ought
buck shot from a warden's service shotgun. She was carrying twin fawns
that also died.
Rural California is filled with wild animals, including dangerous
beasts like bear and mountain lion, and transplanted city folk who
can't quite get past the cuteness of giving handouts to the local
Here's the solution: Keep the wildlife wild. Stop feeding them.
Finally, this: If feeding wild animals wasn't a problem, do you
think the Fish and Game Commission would have had to create a
regulation to deal with it?
Thom Gabrukiewicz writes for the Redding Record Searchlight in