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A Real Act of Kindness, Leave Fawns in the Wild

July 13, 2011

July is the peak of whitetail deer fawning season in Alabama. The public is encouraged to leave seemingly abandoned, lost or orphaned fawns in the wild if found.  Every year the lives of many young wild animals are destroyed by well-meaning people who attempt to “rescue” young wildlife from the wild.

According to Marisa Lee, Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Hunter Education Coordinator, taking animals from their natural environment robs them from an opportunity to learn to survive, even if that means the animal must fend for itself. In most cases, the seemingly abandoned fawns are healthy animals with a parent nearby. “By taking animals from the wild they are prevented from learning about natural enemies and other necessary survival skills,” Lee said. “This especially is true for fawns. Although you may think you are helping, you are actually imposing a death sentence on them.”

Here are some fawn facts to consider if you find one in the wild:

  • Fawns are left in protective cover up until three weeks of age and the mother will return two to eight times per day to feed them. She may not return if you are within sight.
  • Most yearling does only have one fawn.
  • If a fawn has been touched by humans, the doe will continue to care for it.
  • A doe will accept a missing fawn for up to 48 hours.
  • Fawns do not digest other animals’ milk well and may dehydrate quickly from diarrhea if fed cow’s milk.
  • Fawns raised with only human contact can imprint on humans and become dangerous when sexually mature.
  • Deer are wild animals and should not be kept as pets.

Most wild birds and mammals (including fawns) are protected under the law and may not be legally taken from the wild or kept as pets. Only when a fawn is found injured or with a dead doe is there reason to do something. If found, the injured fawn should be delivered to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator or to a WFF district office. For a list of district offices visit, http://www.outdooralabama.com/hunting/contacts/wildlifesec.cfm.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com .

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