Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Few things in nature are as cute as a week old fawn, but sometimes nature isn’t always pretty. I’ve remodeled this post from one posted last year because, evidenced by our incoming phone calls, it's that time of year again and our education is needed. The most important thing to keep in mind is:

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 (sometimes the entire day or longer) as they are not strong enough to keep up with her as she forages, nor are they eating solid foods yet. 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.

While many of us have an idyllic image of deer dashing through forests and grazing in wide open fields (plenty of which exist in the southeastern Wisconsin region), but it is actually 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 when this happens, the mother of this adorable creature with the biggest, wettest eyes you’ve probably ever seen will come back.

It may be difficult to resist the urge to move the baby to a safer location if it’s near a road or even just a shady spot if it’s in the sun, but its best chance at survival is to stay with its mother. She is perfectly capable of getting up, however wobbly, and moving if she becomes uncomfortable or senses danger.

It’s important to keep in mind with all baby animals that even when found alone, they are rarely actually orphaned. With deer, unfortunately, we face another issue: in Waukesha County (as well as many other Wisconsin counties) chronic wasting disease regulations do not allow the rehabilitation of deer or rearing of fawns.

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 a fawn is abandoned it will show clear signs of distress like running around and crying continuously (for several hours straight, not just a bit of crying after being startled by the lawnmower or the family dog). Even though we can’t raise them here, if they are exhibiting these behaviors and they are young enough that they actually allow you to capture them, then they are too young to survive on their own and the outcome will ultimately be their starvation.

If you have questions about a fawn or any animal that you think needs help, please contact the Wildlife In Need Center or a rehabilitator in your area before you do anything else.

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