UCLUELET, B.C. – In a deer drama worthy of the emotions stirred by Bambi, a Vancouver Island woman will be permitted to keep the domesticated doe she calls Bimbo.
The Environment Ministry granted consent for the fawn friendship to stay intact on Friday, apparently ending a saga that could have involved a forced separation.
The province will permit Janet Schwartz, 70, and her pet to keep their close quarters with the help of a veterinarian and conservation officers, said Environment Minister Terry Lake.
“We are highly concerned about the extreme habituation of this animal and understand the risks associated with the removal of an animal that has become so accustomed to a home setting,” Lake said in a statement.
The minister, who is a veterinarian, said he is well aware of the bonding that takes place between people and their pets.
“(I’m) confident that by working with the provincial veterinarian and trained conservation officer staff, Ms. Schwartz will be able to follow a plan of care that will see her and Bimbo continue to live together.”
Under the new plan, the ministry expects to work Schwartz to ensure the continued “well-being and safety” of the animal.
Media reports say the woman has lived with the creature for about 10 years, feeding it goat milk and allowing it to sleep in a bed with her and her dog.
She took the black-tailed animal under her wing and raised it after finding it as a fawn in her yard.
The decision comes as the longtime Ucluelet, B.C., resident was vowing to fight the government over the second call for removal of the deer in three years.
In 2009, Schwartz was directed to apply for a wildlife permit but was denied.
The province relented then too, after national media attention, support from residents and a Save Bimbo Facebook page surfaced.
Lake has previously told media it is illegal to keep wild animals as pets. Earlier this week, he said there was a recent complaint that Schwartz was keeping the deer in her yard.
Schwartz could not be immediately reached, but has previously said the pet means the world to her and that if she was forced to give it up she would die.
A team including biologists, veterinarians and conservation officers is expected to establish a care plan for Bimbo in the next week.
— By Tamsyn Burgmann in Vancouver