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Deer Lady Returns to Court

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – The woman known as the "Deer Lady" was scheduled to appear in Cheektowaga town court Tuesday. Anita Depczynski is scheduled to face trial -- and possible jail time -- for violating the state's feeding ban. But Depczynski's new attorney is expected to ask for a postponement of the controversial case.

Depczynski never envisioned spending her days in court when she first contacted the state Department of Environmental Conservation two years ago. She had called to report deer being injured by poachers in Stiglemeier Park. But Depczynski says she, not the poachers, became the target of the DEC.

Depczynski is charged with several counts of violating the state's feeding ban. The ban was instituted to prevent the introduction of Chronic Wasting Disease -- a disease fatal to wildlife. Depczynski says the deer will die if she doesn't feed them. Joel Thomas who is a local wildlife administrator says that's true.

"If we stop feeding the deer in Stiglemeier, some deer are going to not survive the winter," said Thomas. "Not all animals are intended to survive in a population. It's population dynamics, it's biology, it's nature, it's the way the planet spins."

Wildlife experts believe feeding the deer causes them to congregate unnaturally, and could spread Chronic Wasting Disease if it should emerge in New York. However, the disease, which is related to Mad Cow Disease, has not been found any closer than Wisconsin. Nor have other states surrounding New York imposed a feeding ban.

But Depczynski believes officials are spinning the truth. She says the state is conspiring with town officials to eliminate deer in Stiglemeier. She says this is really a 16-year-old battle to develop the nature park into a more profitable recreational park.

"If there's a blade of grass in Cheektowaga and it's not making money it will be sold, and that's what this is all about," said Depczynski. "I'm just another one who picked up the torch and went with it."

Depczynski, who says she will not stop feeding the deer, recently was representing herself in court. But she says family and friends persuaded her to accept legal counsel. If convicted of the newest charges, when the case goes ton trial, the 63-year-old Depczynski faces up to 45 days in jail.