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Vermont family win battle to keep pet duck

MIDDLESEX, Vt. -- State game officials have backed down and allowed a woman to keep a 3-year-old wood duck that was brought home by one of her dogs when it was a chick.

Earlier this year, a game warden arrived at Kimberlee Stevens' home in Middlesex to take the duck named Peep. When Stevens refused to hand the animal over, the warden promised to return with a search warrant.

"I don't know. He won't make it. I don't know, I might not make it. He is like one of my kids and I just can't, I can't let him go. They'll have to take me with him," said Stevens to CBS affiliate WCAX at the time.

On Friday, the state Fish and Wildlife Department relented and issued a permit allowing the family to keep the bird.

"It's such a relief to know we can keep him, it was a very stressful process and we just fought our way to the end, and I'm so happy we get to keep him," said Jodie May, Stevens' daughter, to WCAX.

Stevens said one of her dogs brought home the chick in late May 2013. They looked for a nest and its mother, but couldn't find any hint of where it came from.

"It was like he was just dropped from the sky," she said Monday. "It was really strange."

Now, Peep lives inside Stevens' farmhouse, roams the house alongside her five dogs and seven cats, sleeps next to her bed and has its own Facebook page. In good weather, it goes outside.

"He takes a little flight every now and then, but it's just around the house and back," Stevens said. "He's like, 'I'm not going nowhere.'"

Despite its role as a family pet, Peep is not house-trained.

"He poops all over. I just keep my bucket full of bleach water, we just go behind him," she said.

Vermont Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter said Monday that private citizens aren't allowed to keep wildlife as pets, because it can be dangerous for both people and critters.

"It's a very, very bad idea for people to take any wild animal out of the wild even if they think they're helping," Porter said.

In a letter to the family Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin wrote: "This is a difficult situation for all involved, including your family, those who have taken an interest in Peep, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife."

The governor said he's glad a resolution has been reached on Peep, WCAX reported.

If state officials had taken Peep, the duck would have been taken to a licensed animal rehabilitator.

"In this particular case it seems as though the damage by leaving this particular duck in place would be less than through issuing this permit," Porter said.

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