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Don't Fawn Over It: Here's What To Do If You Spot A Baby Deer All Alone

It is not uncommon to see baby deer out in the open and on their own in the region this time of year. Experts say leave them be.
It is not uncommon to see baby deer out in the open and on their own in the region this time of year. Experts say leave them be. Photo Credit: dnr.sc.gov

There are plenty of baby deer who are out and often alone and in the open, officials are advising area residents, while adding an important caveat: If you see one, leave it be.

It is natural for a baby fawn in its first weeks of life to be lying in nature, according to wildlife experts.

Their mothers park them in the open to keep them safe from predators, according to CLAWS, an education and animal rehabilitation nonprofit.

As long as the fawn is lying or walking quietly, it should be left for its mother to pick up later.

Human contact with wildlife can have unintended consequences that are detrimental to animals,  according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Fawns walk shortly after birth and spend much of their first several days lying still in tall grass, leaf litter, or sometimes relatively unconcealed.

During this period, a fawn is usually left alone by the adult female, except when nursing.

People occasionally find a lone fawn and mistakenly assume it has been abandoned, which is rare, according to the NYSDEC.

Fawns should never be picked up. If human presence is detected by the doe, the doe may delay its next visit to nurse.

A fawn's best chance to survive is to be raised by the adult doe. Fawns nurse three to four times a day, usually for less than 30 minutes at a time, but otherwise, the doe keeps her distance.

This helps reduce the chance that a predator will follow her to the fawn.

A fawn's protective coloration and ability to remain motionless help it avoid detection by predators and people.

However, there are times a fawn may need help, according to CLAWS.

  • When it is running around frantically, screaming for over an hour,
  • When it has been attacked or has obvious life-threatening wounds,
  • When it is lying flat out, head and legs away from its body, unresponsive.

Otherwise, leave it alone, says CLAWS.

Young wild animals are not pets and keeping them in captivity is both illegal and harmful to the animal, says the NYSDEC.

In addition, wild animals are not well-suited for life in captivity and may carry diseases that can be transferred to humans.

Resist the temptation to take them out of the wild.

For more information, visit the NYSDEC's website here.

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