Kent Gustafson, (603) 271-2461
Mark Ellingwood, (603) 271-2461
Jane Vachon, (603) 271-3211
June 15, 2005

Want to Help? Leave Fawns Alone

CONCORD, N.H. -- With springtime wildlife young now on the scene, remember that you should NOT pick up any animals you may find, especially fawns (newborn deer).

"Remember -- the best chance a young wild animal or bird has to survive is with its parents," says New Hampshire Fish and Game Wildlife Programs Administrator Mark Ellingwood. "Give fawns and other young animals plenty of space and leave them alone and in the woods, where they belong."

One New Hampshire wildlife rehabilitator, Cathie Gregg of the Elaine Connors Center for Wildlife in Madison reports that, "this is the time of year when people are apt to see deer fawns by themselves. Well-intentioned people are picking up fawns at an alarming rate this year. When a fawn is picked up and admitted to our wildlife center, it is automatically put at a disadvantage, and oftentimes will not survive."

Seeing a fawn alone does NOT mean that it is orphaned or that it needs our help, says Gregg. Typically the doe (female deer) will feed in the early morning and evening hours. It is normal for a doe to leave her fawn alone while she goes off to feed. In many cases, the doe will not return until nightfall.

Mark Ellingwood notes that fawns are not defenseless creatures. Their cryptic coloration, tendency to stay perfectly still, and lack of scent, are all adaptations that help boost survival. The absence of a doe at the bedding site of fawns enhances fawn survival as well. Does are easy to detect because of their size and scent; predators would quickly key in on does in order to find fawns, if the two associated with one another constantly. "Well intentioned but misguided humans who apply human behaviors and attributes to wild animals often literally love our wildlife to death," notes Ellingwood.

If you're lucky enough to see a fawn, count your blessings and leave the area. Your continued presence and/or frequent visits will only contribute to the likelihood of the fawn being abandoned. Unless you can verify that a fawn's mother is dead -- please leave it alone. If you have questions, call your local Fish and Game office before taking any action.

Note that it is ILLEGAL to have in your possession or take any New Hampshire wildlife from the wild and keep it in captivity. Only qualified people with a special rehabilitator's permit, issued through Fish and Game headquarters, may possess any wild animal.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state's fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats.

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