Man faces fines for trying to save deer pulled from frozen lake


A York County man could be fined hundreds of dollars for trying to revive a deer that was rescued from the frozen lake at Gifford Pinchot State Park.

John Stoll and wife Terri didn’t think twice about helping the Pennsylvania Game Commission rescue several deer stuck on the ice. They thought they were doing a good deed. They never imagined the outcome.

“It was a stressful situation, and it was really hard on them,” Stoll said.

It took officials several hours to free the deer. John and Terri were there watching, assisting, and streaming it live on Facebook.

Their rescue attempt truly started when the couple brought a buck, paralyzed from the cold, back to their garage in Wellsville to warm it up. They draped the deer in heated blankets and tried to get it walking again. After 12 hours of care, the buck died.

“We were doing what we thought was right, and if we would have known – we have respect for law enforcement – we wouldn’t have done it,” Stoll said.

Heartbroken by their failed attempts to save the deer’s life, trouble struck when the couple got a call from the game commission to tell them that they broke the law.

“He told me I could get two fines, one could be $400 to $800 and one could be $1,200,” Stoll said.

In a statement, the game commission said that leaving the deer alone would have been the most caring thing the couple could have done for the animal. It said people want to help wildlife that appears to be in trouble, but they don’t realize intervening can make a situation worse and put the animal under stress.”

“We don’t regret our decision, our choices,” Stoll said. “Our heart was in the right place. We just couldn’t let an animal lay there and suffer.”

Stoll said the fine hasn’t come in the mail. When it does, he plans to fight it.

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