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CONTACT:
Dan Bergeron: 603-271-2461
Lt. Heidi Murphy: 603-271-3127
May 23, 2014

White tailed deer fawn

Leave Fawns Alone – Their Mothers Are Likely Nearby

CONCORD, N.H. -- In the coming weeks, deer will be giving birth around the state. May and June are the months when the majority of deer fawns are born in New Hampshire. Each year around this time, many New Hampshire residents see young fawns by themselves and fear the worst. Has the mother died? Has she abandoned her fawn? The answer in most cases is NO. The doe is likely not far off, waiting to return to feed her newborn fawn.

It is important to remember that deer fawns (and moose calves) that are alone have likely NOT been abandoned. For the first month or so after birth, does will leave their fawns alone for several hours at a time. Although this may seem neglectful, it is actually an adaptation that helps keep the fawn safe from predators. At birth, fawns are not very mobile, but are born with little scent and a spotted camouflage coat. They avoid predation by lying motionless in high grass or thick vegetation. Adult deer, on the other hand, can be easily detected by predators due to their scent and large size. Because of this, does will spend long periods of time away from their fawns to disassociate their scent from the fawn and keep them safe from predators. For the first month of life, the doe will only visit the fawn a few times a day to nurse quickly before leaving again, although usually not going too far.

Unfortunately, every year well-intentioned, but misguided, individuals see fawns alone, assume they are abandoned and take them in to “help” them. Most of the time, they are removing the fawn from the care of its mother, who was waiting to return. The best chance a young wild animal has to survive is in its natural environment, under the care of its mother.

If you see a fawn (or any other young wildlife) and suspect it has been abandoned or orphaned, do not move the animal. Contact N.H. Fish and Game by emailing wildlife@wildlife.nh.gov or calling 603-271-2461 and make a report. Fish and Game staff can assess the situation and help determine the best course of action. In most cases, it is best to leave the fawn alone and allow time for the mother to return to move it to a different location.

NEVER take in wildlife. Only qualified people with special rehabilitator permits, issued through N.H. Fish and Game, may take in and care for injured or orphaned wildlife. Improper care of injured or orphaned wildlife often leads to their sickness or death. For example, deer fawns that have been fed cow’s milk will develop severe diarrhea (scours). Every year, the state’s only licensed fawn rehabilitator has several fawns die from scours because they have been improperly fed or cared for by the public. Unless you have rehabilitator credentials, it is ILLEGAL to have in your possession or take New Hampshire wildlife from the wild and keep it in captivity. For a full list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators, go to wildnh.com/Wildlife/wildlife_rehabbers.htm.

Please remember that the best way to help young wildlife is by keeping them WILD.

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