RALEIGH, N.C. (May 4, 2011) – Though white-tailed fawns seen hiding in the grass may look abandoned and very much alone, they usually are not, and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is urging the public not to approach, touch, feed or move them. Contact with a human may harm the animal more than help it.
Whitetails are a “hider” species, which means the female will hide her fawn in vegetation during the first two or three weeks of its life as she feeds. Spotted and lacking scent, fawns are well-camouflaged and usually remain undetected by predators. The doe will return to the fawn several times a day to nurse and clean it, staying only a few minutes each time before leaving again to seek food. A human may never see the doe and think the fawn needs help or food. But staying away is a better option.
The fawn is well-equipped to protect itself. By the time it is 5 days old, already it can outrun a human. At 3 to 6 weeks of age, fawns can escape most predators.
Unless a fawn is in imminent danger — for example, under attack by dogs or injured in a tractor mowing accident — the best decision always is to leave it alone. If you are concerned about the fawn, leave the area and come back to check on the fawn the next day. Do not remain in the area. Does are very cautious and will not approach a fawn if they sense danger.
If a fawn is in the exact location when you check on it the following day and bleating loudly, or if a fawn is lying beside a dead doe (likely at the side of a highway), do not take the fawn into your possession. It is illegal to remove a fawn from the wild. Only fawn rehabilitators with a permit from the Commission may keep white-tailed fawns in captivity for eventual release. Instead, call the Wildlife Resources Commission at (919) 707-0040 for the contact information of a local, permitted fawn rehabilitator or see a list of fawn rehabilitators.