For the last few months in Chittenango, a small town just outside of Syracuse, a woman has been fighting for the right to continue caring for two wild deer in her possession.
On Nov. 23, Madison County Acting Superior Court Judge Donald Cerio ruled against Cindy McGinley.
McGinley is a wildlife rehabilitation specialist who runs the Rivendell Farm Rescue and Sanctuary. The 12-acre horse farm offers the space and expertise to rescue, rehabilitate, and/or offer lifelong sanctuary to a select few horses and orphaned fawns.
McGinley has been caring for the two deer she’s fighting for—Deirdre and Lily—since they were fawns.
More than five years ago, Deirdre was orphaned at just two days old when her mother was struck by a car. McGinley has been caring for her ever since. Last year, she took in Lily, who is blind.
According to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, McGinley is in violation of her wildlife rehabilitation specialist license because it is unlawful to keep wild animals as pets. As required by her license, any wildlife under her care that are incapable of surviving if released to the wild must be humanely euthanized or transferred to an individual who possesses a valid license to possess such an animal.
Earlier this year when she applied to the DEC for the special license that would have allowed her to keep the two does for education and exhibition purposes, her request was denied.
To keep the deer in her possession, McGinley started an online petition and collected more than 222,500 signatures in hopes that Gov. Andrew Cuomo would save the deer. She also amassed legal bills totaling upwards of $15,000.
Judge Cerio dismissed her petition in its entirety, which included a request for the court to overturn and annul the previous denial of her additional license request.
At the start of December, the fate of the two deer was still unknown. They could either be released back into the wild or euthanized by the DEC.