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What To Do and Not Do With Fawns

This young fawn was well hidden among the day-lily leaves.

All fawns are small and adorable, but we must resist the urge to ‘save’ them. When a fawn is born, for the first two weeks they lie quietly where the mom leaves it. The mother visits daily, usually near or after nightfall, spends the night and leaves at first light.

The reason?  Fawns have no scent for the first two weeks of life; their mothers do, and it is the mother’s scent which would lure predators to her offspring. The mom will often re-locate the fawn, or elect to leave it in its same location for 72 hours. In those early days, the young fawns and their gangly legs can’t keep up with mom. The camouflaging on a fawn’s coat is most effective. They lose their spots in about one year.

After two weeks, the fawns get up and move about. They may bed down on a lawn, a pasture, a median strip, or a roadside. To see an isolated, uninjured fawn is thus far from unusual and does not constitute abandonment, thus they should not be ‘rescued’ or, as we call it, ‘kidnapped.’ If you find a fawn wandering about, leave it alone.

The best rules to follow are these:

If you find a fawn in a dangerous area, move it to a safe site near where you found them. Do it quickly, quietly and without fanfare. Don’t tell neighbors and friends; this is not a photo-op; the more it is handled, the more harm is done.

If the fawn is injured, bleeding, falling over, or calling for its mom all night] etc., or if the mom is dead, then, and only then, should you get them to a wildlife shelter.

The life expectancy of a fawn in the wild is dreadful. Our understanding is that captured fawns have a 70% mortality in the first year.

Too many people pick up the fawn, keep it several days before calling for help. They are often fed the wrong food which may cause often lethal GI disturbances. Never offer the fawns food, especially milk. To deliver the fawn to a rehabber at that point is almost certain death.

If in doubt, call a licensed rehabber before moving the fawn.

Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center; 540-798-9836] located in Roanoke County. We are a not-for-profit organization whose mission it is to further the environment and ecology of the Roanoke Valley through public education and the rehabilitation of wildlife indigenous to southwestern Virginia. We depend on donations from the public. If you find an injured, orphaned or sick animal or bird, call us. We will discuss the best way to deal with the animal, and take it into our facility if needed.

Lucky Garvin


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