2018-06-13 / News

Animal ‘rescuers’ create problems for wildlife

Well-meaning residents are creating wildlife woes, again.

Every year around this time, the Department of Natural Resources is flooded with calls from people who have “rescued” fawns they believed were abandoned by their mothers.

But according to DNR wildlife biologist Buck Marchinton, their mothers are almost always nearby.

“The mother deer aren’t abandoning their young … they are protecting them,” he said, describing the typical scene of a fawn curled up in a fields or woods road with no doe in sight. “With natural camouflage and faint scent, a fawn’s best defense is to lay perfectly still, with no adult deer nearby to draw the attention of predators.”

Unfortunately, more than a few folks who spot lone fawns end up taking them home in an effort to help them.

“It never ends well,” Marchinton confirmed. “It is very diffi- cult to provide the right nutrition and attention for any infant, and even if the deer lives to adulthood it may lack the skills to survive in the wild.” For these and other reasons, it is illegal to keep a fawn or any native wild animal without the proper permits.

To complicate matters, wildlife rehabilitators are overwhelmed with “rescued” fawn assistance requests this time of year, and simply don’t have room.

DNR agents say the best solution is to completely avoid the problem by quietly walking away.

If the fawn is in a dangerous place, like a road or a field that is about to be worked, it’s okay to pick it up and move it to safe spot nearby, preferably a shady one.

“Touching a fawn briefly will not make the mother abandon it,” Marchinton said. “But taking it home will.”

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