Springtime Reminder: Leave Deer Fawns Alone

If you happen to discover a deer fawn this spring, do it a favor and simply walk away.

Springtime Reminder: Leave Deer Fawns Alone

I recently saw a press release from the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, and the message was clear: Deer fawns are being born this time of year, and people should avoid disturbing or picking them up.

According to Vermont Deer Biologist Nick Fortin, most deer fawns are born during late May and the first couple weeks of June. He says it is best to keep your distance because the fawn’s mother is almost always not far away.

When people who don’t know much about deer see a small fawn alone, they often think it is abandoned, lost or needing to be rescued. Not true. During their first few weeks, deer fawns do their best to evade predators by relying on camouflage and stillness to remain undetected.

Fortin encourages people to resist the urge to assist wildlife in ways that may be harmful, and he offered these tips:

  • Deer nurse their young at different times during the day and often leave their young alone for long periods of time. These animals are not lost. Their mother knows where they are and will return.
  • Deer normally will not feed or care for their young when people are close by.
  • Deer fawns will imprint on humans and lose their natural fear of people, which can be essential to their survival.
  • Keep domestic pets under control at all times. Dogs often will kill deer fawns and other baby animals.
  • Bringing a fawn into a human environment results in separation from its mother, and it usually results in a tragic ending for the deer.
  • For the safety of all wildlife, taking a wild animal into captivity is illegal in Vermont, and it’s likely illegal in your home state, too.

“It’s in the best interest of Vermonters and the wildlife that live here, for all of us to maintain a respectful distance and help keep wildlife wild,” Fortin said.

This spring, watch out for newborn fawns in tall-grass areas around homes and businesses in suburban areas. If you see one, snap a quick smartphone pic if you wish, but don’t bother the fawn. And certainly don’t touch it. A doe left the fawn there for safety from coyotes and other predators, and she’ll be back (likely under the cover of darkness).

Author’s note: For an example of what NOT to do, check out this home video featuring my 5-year-old son Luke from a dozen years ago. Yes, the backyard scene is adorable, but Luke shouldn’t have touched the fawn. The good news is the doe tolerated my son’s intrusion, and we often saw the doe and fawn feeding in the woods behind our house during the following weeks and months.


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