|Springtime brings sightings of baby animals, like this young fawn. While fawns may seem abandoned, they almost certainly are not – deer often leave fawns unattended for long periods to help prevent them from being detected by predators.|
The animals most commonly rescued by well-intentioned citizens include white-tailed deer fawns and raccoons.
“Spring is the time for fawns,” said DNR wildlife technician Holly Vaughn. “Remember a fawn’s best chance for survival is with its mother. Do not remove a fawn that is not injured from the wild.”
“Fawns rely on their camouflage coat to protect them from predators, while their mother stays off in the distance,” Vaughn added. “The mother will not return if people or dogs are present. If you find a fawn alone, do not touch it, just quickly leave it alone. After dark the mother deer will return for her fawn.”
It is not uncommon for deer to leave their fawns unattended for up to eight hours at a time. This behavior minimizes the scent of the mother left around the fawn and allows the fawn to go undetected from nearby predators. While fawns may seem abandoned, they almost certainly are not. All wild white-tailed deer begin life this way.
Most mammals have a keen sense of smell, and parents may abandon their young if humans have touched them. Other wildlife, such as birds, should not be handled either. Adult birds will continue to care for hatchlings that have fallen from their nest. If people move the hatchlings, the adults may not be able to locate and care for them.
The DNR advises:
It is illegal to possess a live wild animal, including deer, in Michigan. If you find any baby animal, it should be left in the wild. The only time a baby animal should be removed from the wild is when you know the parent is dead or the animal is injured. Please contact a local licensed wildlife rehabilitator before removing the animal.
For a list of licensed local rehabilitators click HERE or visit www.michigandnr.com/dlr.
And below are more links to various lists of licensed rehabilitators outside of Michigan—
- Rehabilitators by state www.owra.org/find-a-wildlife-
- Animal Help Now website directs users to the closest open wildlife rehabilitators.
- Wildlife Rehabilitation Information Directory http://wildliferehabinfo.org/
- www.wildliferehabber.com has an online listing of rehabilitation contacts by country and state.