Please credit US Fish and Wildlife Service
RALEIGH, N.C. (May 9, 2012) — 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. This time of year — during the first several weeks of a fawn’s life — the female will hide her fawn in vegetation while she feeds elsewhere.
Though white-tailed deer fawns may look abandoned and alone, they often are just waiting for the female deer to return from foraging for food. Contact with a human may do more harm than good.
“White-tailed deer are a ‘hider species,’” said Evin Stanford, deer biologist for the Commission. “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.”
An otherwise well-intentioned person may never see the doe and think a lone 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, it can outrun a human already. At 3 to 6 weeks of age, a fawn 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 it the next day. Do not remain in the area. A doe is very cautious and will not approach its fawn if she senses 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 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 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 919-707-0050 for the contact information of a local, permitted fawn rehabilitator or see a list of fawn rehabilitators.