North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

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Fawns and Other Young Wildlife: Leave Them in the Wild

  • 12 April 2017
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Fawns and Other Young Wildlife: Leave Them in the Wild
Even if they seem to have been abandoned, it's important to leave wildlife in the wild.

RALEIGH, N.C. (April 12, 2017) —The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission reminds the public to exercise respect and caution when encountering fawns and other young wildlife this spring. Handling, moving or feeding seemingly abandoned wildlife can harm or ultimately kill the animal and can put your safety at risk.

“Most of the time, fawns that appear to be abandoned are simply waiting for their mother to return,” said Jessie Birckhead, the Commission’s extension biologist. “Does can typically be found in the surrounding area searching for food and water, returning to the fawn several times a day to nurse and clean it.”

Fawns are naturally camouflaged and have little scent, which helps them remain undetected by predators. Many other species, including rabbits, take a similar strategy with their young, hiding them during the day while the adults are looking for food and other resources. You can do your part in protecting young wildlife by keeping pets away from the area and reminding kids (and adults) to leave the animals alone.

If a fawn is in the exact same location for longer than a day and bleating loudly, or is lying near a dead doe (likely at the side of a highway), contact a licensed fawn rehabilitator for guidance. Do not touch the fawn or take it into your possession. It is illegal to remove mammals and birds from the wild without a permit. Only fawn rehabilitators with a permit from the Commission may keep white-tailed fawns in captivity for eventual release. For more information on fawns and other young wildlife in distress, go to

Though feeding wildlife may seem harmless or even helpful, it can cause a wild animal to lose its natural fear of humans. The animal may become bold or cause property damage while searching for more human food. Some diseases, such as rabies and roundworm, can be transmitted to humans through wildlife interaction. For more information about the hazards of feeding wildlife, go to

For assistance with these and other types of human-wildlife interactions, call the new N.C. Wildlife Helpline at 866-318-2401. The call center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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