Gov. Scott Walker pardoned a deer Thursday that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wanted to kill. 

The governor's action came after Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass took up the cause of "Charlotte the Deer",0,4021752.column"> in a column Thursday morning.

Kass called it "the worst Christmas story ever" and told the story of how Charlotte and her mother were hit by a car more than a year ago. The mother was killed, but Charlotte survived.

Marvin Graaf, 49, of Lake Geneva, who rescues horses, took her in and nursed her back to health. 

Rescue shelters wouldn't take Charlotte because she comes from a chronic wasting disease zone, and mixing deer from different herds increases the risk of infection. 

In August, the DNR sent officers to Graaf's home to euthanize Charlotte, but Graaf refused to turn her over. Walworth County prosecutors charged Graaf with "unauthorized taking of deer from wild" and were threatening him with up to eight months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

"I'm directing the DNR to save Charlotte," Walker said in a statement. "Our state is undergoing a comprehensive review of our deer management practices. While our Deer Trustee is studying the issue, DNR will keep Charlotte the Deer free. After the study is complete we'll make sure that Charlotte is saved."


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