Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Frolicking Fawns

Few things in nature are as cute as a week old fawn, but sometimes nature isn’t always pretty. As mentioned in a previous post the best thing to do if you see a fawn sitting alone is to resist the urge to interfere. Mother deer will frequently leave their fawns for several hours at a time as they are not strong enough to keep up with her as she forages. Unless the baby is showing obvious signs of distress you can be certain that the mother will return, perhaps closer to dusk when she feels it is safe to do so.
Because we have received a large number of calls regarding fawns in the past couple of weeks I would like to take this opportunity to expand on the discussion of what to do when you encounter these situations. First, we have an idyllic image of deer dashing through forests and grazing in wide open fields, but it is actually quite common to see deer in town, especially in quite, grassy subdivisions. It is also quite common, believe it or not, to find a fawn resting in your front flower bed one day. Don’t worry, in nearly every case the mother of this adorable creature with the biggest, wettest eyes you’ve probably ever seen will come back. Having helped raise deer for the zoo in my hometown when I was in high school, I can understand the urge to want to take up and care for this helpless babe, but its best chance at survival is to stay with its mother.
This is the case with all baby animals but with deer we face another issue: in Waukesha County (as well as many other Wisconsin counties) chronic wasting disease regulations do not allow the rehabilitation and rearing of deer. Remember, if a fawn is abandoned it will show clear signs of distress like running around and crying continuously. Even though we can’t raise them here, if they are exhibiting these behaviors for a long period of time (several hours or more) and they are young enough that they allow you to capture them, then they are too young to survive on their own and the outcome will be their starvation or a predator.
We want what’s best for each potential patient we take in and that means keeping them with their natural parents in their natural environment in as many cases as possible. If you have questions about a fawn or any animal that you think needs help, please contact us or a rehabilitator in your area before you do anything else.

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