SCDNR: Two arrested in Lee County after agents find deer and hundreds of squirrels among other animals kept in mobile home
COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)– The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources says two individuals were arrested in Lee County after several deer, hundreds of squirrels and other animals were found kept in crowded conditions in a mobile home. Authorities say armadillos and nutria were also found in the double-wide mobile home. Officials say nutria are native to South America and can damage vegetation and bodies of water if introduced to a new area. Authorities add this could also violate state laws.
Investigators say more than 200 squirrels and other mammals were kept in small cages, but some were roaming freely in the mobile home.
“Right now, our number one concern is the welfare of these animals,” said SCDNR Deputy Director of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Emily Cope. “It’s a very challenging situation to deal with, mainly because of the sheer number of animals that were being kept on this site, and the deplorable conditions that existed there. We are working with Animal Control to determine the best way to move forward on this, and the help we’ve gotten from local veterinarians has been invaluable.”
Officials say SCDNR called on the Lee County Office of Animal Control to assist at the scene
According to SCDNR, warrants were served on June 29 for Laura Ross and Nicole Lafaivre, who were arrested on charges including illegal possession of white-tailed deer, inhumane treatment of animals and illegal importation/possession of non-native wildlife species. Authorities say they were taken to Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center.
SCDNR takes the inhumane treatment of animals very seriously,” said SCDNR Deputy Director for Law Enforcement, Col. Chisolm Frampton. “It’s heartbreaking when our officers encounter a situation like this, and we greatly appreciate the assistance of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and all of the other agencies and individuals involved yesterday. It’s important for us to be clear that this kind of treatment of wildlife will not be tolerated in South Carolina.”
SCDNR says the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine will help test the animals which may be released to the wild if they are disease free.