RALEIGH, N.C. (May 24, 2013) — We get it. They are awfully cute, and many times look abandoned.
But the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is reminding the public that they should not approach, touch, feed or move fawns seen hiding in the grass, brush or other vegetation. Deer are a“hider species” — which means a female will hide her fawn in vegetation while she feeds elsewhere. She might not return for several hours.
So while the fawn might look abandoned and alone, it is often just waiting for the female to return.
The fawn is well-equipped to protect itself. By the time it is 5 days old it can outrun a human and by 3 to 6 weeks of age the fawn can escape most predators.
“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,” said Ann May, a wildlife biologist with the Commission. “Touching, moving or feeding the fawn will do more harm than good.”
Humans usually cannot provide the proper care for the fawn, and moving it might stress it.
Raising a fawn as a pet is illegal in North Carolina and can lead to situations that are dangerous for the animal and humans alike. Wild animals that lose their fear of humans typically don’t survive in the wild and those that do often become threats to people. Deer that have no fear of people will sometimes exert aggression toward people resulting in serious injury.
In March, for example, a deer attacked a man in Utah.Wildlife officials say the mule deer did not fear people because it had been raised as a pet. Similar attacks have happened in North Carolina in recent years.
Unless a fawn is in imminent danger — for example, under attack by dogs or injured in a mowing accident — the best decision is to leave it alone. If you are concerned, leave the area and come back to check the fawn the next day. Do not remain in the area. A doe is very cautious and will not approach its fawn if she senses your presence.
If the fawn is inthe exact location the following day and bleating loudly or lying near 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 licensed fawn rehabilitators may keep fawns in captivity for eventual release.
Instead, call the Wildlife Resources Commission at 919-707-0050 for the contact information of a local, permitted rehabilitator or see a list of fawn rehabilitators. Follow the guidance of the fawn rehabilitator.