Column: Don’t turn a fawn’s nap into a 'fawn-napping'!Deer aren’t typical bank customers, so when employees at the Kenwood US Bank found a fawn curled up in the middle of their drive-through, they called Wildwoods.
By: Elyse Hornstein, For the Budgeteer News
Deer aren’t typical bank customers, so when employees at the Kenwood US Bank found a fawn curled up in the middle of their drive-through, they called Wildwoods.
When we arrived, we found a young fawn on the pavement, with its mother nowhere in sight. Though bank staff had encircled the fawn with traffic cones, cars were still uncomfortably close.
When we approached, the fawn lurched to its feet and began to call for its mother. As we gently picked it up to move it a few feet away to a safer location, its mother emerged from the bushes. We waited until she was closer (so the fawn would run toward her rather than toward traffic), then set the baby down. The fawn ran to her and the two trotted off toward the quiet lawns of Dodge Avenue.
While this fawn’s location was unusual, the situation is not. Each spring, our nonprofit receives hundreds of calls from people worried about the fawns they find alone in their yards or in the woods. However, out of the many calls we get every spring, only a handful of fawns truly need help.
So why are these babies alone?
In late May and early June, whitetail does in our area give birth to fawns, who can stand and walk within minutes of birth. However, for their first 6 weeks, fawns are not fast enough to outrun predators. During those first weeks, mom parks her babies in what she thinks is a safe spot, relying on the fawn’s spotted coat and its initial lack of scent to hide it as it lies still and waits for her.
The doe comes back every 5-6 hours to feed her babies, then leaves again to forage. She deliberately stays away from her fawns when she’s not nursing them so that she won’t draw predators to them. So most lone fawns are not abandoned at all; mother usually is within earshot, munching away while her baby rests.
How can you tell if a fawn is in trouble? Sometimes it’s easy. If it’s obviously injured (bleeding, limping, etc.), or if you’ve seen it get attacked by a dog or cat, it needs help. If it’s next to a dead doe, it is orphaned and needs help. If it is unresponsive, lying on its side, it needs help.
In any of these instances, please call a wildlife rehabilitator, and be ready to pick the fawn up and bring it to them. And never, ever feed a fawn unless directed to do so by a wildlife rehabilitator.
Fawns who are wandering around calling for mom may be orphaned, but please call a wildlife rehabilitator before taking action. We will ask you certain questions about the fawn, and may ask you to keep an eye on it for several hours, just to be sure its mom isn’t returning, before we ask you to bring it to us.
If you find a fawn in unsafe location, such as the middle of the road, you may pick it up and move it to the side of the road. Never move it more than a dozen feet or so. After you’ve moved it, make it lie down and then leave it. If it is still in the same location the following morning, call a wildlife rehabilitator.
The most important thing anyone who spots a lone fawn should remember is that this animal will not make a good pet. While cute and seemingly docile, fawns are wild animals not suited to living with people, and keeping them is against the law. The deer’s best chance of survival is with its mother.
For more information on wildlife and how you can help, please visit our website: www.wildwoodsrehab.org
Elyse Hornstein studied journalism at Ithaca College. Currently she works for Wildwoods, an animal rehabilitation group based in Duluth.