(WFXR) — While fawns may be cute with their big eyes and bushy little tails, if you see one in the wild, leave them alone!
The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) reminds residents that it’s that time of year when white-tailed deer fawns start popping up in yards and hayfields, leaving concerned citizens eager to help.
However, in almost all cases, the DWR says the best way to help and protect the wild is just to give the fawn space and leave it alone.
They say concerned, good-intentioned citizens sometimes pick animals up that they think may be orphaned. The vast majority of wild animals will not abandon their young, but they do leave them alone for long periods of time.
For instance, fawns, born from May through July, are purposely left alone by their mothers. Female deer, called does, stay away from the fawns to avoid leading predators to their location. The white-spotted coat camouflages a fawn as it lies motionless in vegetation. Young fawns generally will not try to run away when they are approached.
Does will return several times a day to move and/or feed their young. There is a chance that you will not see the doe at all since she only stays to feed the fawn for a few minutes before it leaves again.
If under 24 hours have passed since a fawn has been “rescued,” it should be taken back and released at the exact same location where it was found. Once you have returned the fawn, they say to leave immediately and do not wait for the doe to return. If a human is nearby, the doe will not return.
If a wild animal has been injured or truly orphaned, you are asked not to take matters into your own hands. Instead, locate a licensed wildlife rehabilitator by calling the Virginia DWR toll-free wildlife conflict helpline at 1-855-571-9003 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or visit the DWR website.
“Raising a wild animal in captivity is illegal unless you have a DWR wildlife rehabilitation permit. Each animal’s nutritional, housing, and handling requirements are very specific and must be met if they have any chance of survival,” the DWR said in Tuesday’s Facebook post. “With even the best professional care possible, the survival rate of rehabilitated fawns and many other animals is very low. The best advice for someone who wants to help wildlife is to keep it wild. Once people interfere, we reduce the opportunity for animals to receive natural care and we increase the risk of harming our wildlife heritage.”
For more information about keeping deer wild, click here.