Fawns are often found lying quietly in a field or by the side of a road—this is normal. Mothers (does) leave the young during the day to draw attention away from them and come back several times a day to nurse. Does rarely abandon their fawns. If you find a fawn and it is not showing signs of needing rescuing, leave it there (leave quickly so it doesn’t follow) and check back in 4-8 hours.
The following is reprinted with permission from Solitudes Wildlife Centre.
- a MINIMUM of 75 percent of fawns that are encountered by humans are not orphaned.
- Does normally give birth to 1-2 fawns anywhere from April to July, although May and June births are most common. The fawns are small and vulnerable for a few weeks and nature ensures that they possess little scent, and spots for camouflage. Does do not normally stay close to the fawns at this age and visit to nurse and clean them anywhere from 4-6 hours, longer if predators are near.
- From birth up to 3 weeks, fawns generally curl up to sleep and hide. Some fawns may wander and “bleat.” Concerned but mislead people may believe the fawn is “orphaned.”
- White-tailed deer live in close proximity to humans and fawns may wander into backyards, outbuildings, farms and once even a church! The doe is almost always absent in these situations and will almost certainly not return until night when the threat of danger has lessened.
- Twin fawns are generally separate during the first few weeks of life—a survival ploy to increase the success rate of at least one fawn surviving predation.
- Does locate their hungry fawns through scent left on the ground from glands between their hooves. Fawns may “bleat” or “mew,” which provides an additional aid in the location of the fawn.
A Fawn Needs Help If:
- Has diarrhea (check under the tail—soft stool with toothpaste consistency OK; watery bad)
- Doe has been killed (you must see the doe’s body to confirm)
- Covered with flies and/or maggots, or body temperature is low
- Has been in captivity for 2 or more days
- Has been given several feeds of cows milk, i.e. 8 oz or more
- Severely dehydrated. Please note that young fawns may appear frail and dehydrated when young. Many “rescuers” claim the fawn is underweight and dehydrated resulting in the “kidnapping” of the fawn.
- Knowledge of natural predators in the area is an unacceptable motive for removing a fawn.
Reuniting Babies with Mother
- If you have moved a fawn, return the baby as soon as possible, as close as possible to where found. If found on or beside a road, place out of right-of-way, preferably over the fence (if one) at that side of the road.
- Place fawn on the ground and leave quickly—otherwise it may follow you!
- Human or pet scent will not keep the doe from accepting the fawn.
- Keep all people and pets away from the site for at least 3 days.
- Solitudes Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre recommends leaving the fawn until next morning. Does often do not return until dark when the threat of danger has passed.
- If the fawn is in the same location the morning, re-evaluate its health status.