Abandoned or not?

deer fawn Spring is one of the best times of year for outdoor photographers. It’s a time of renewal, and the possibility of observing and taking pictures of young creatures is very exciting. One of the most frequently seen species in the Kamloops and Sun Peaks areas is the mule deer.

Spring’s a very important time for does as they move into suitable habitats to give birth to their fawns. Deer deliver their young in late spring or early summer. Fawns are very fragile and too weak to get around effectively, so their mothers try to find comfortable and safe spots for them to hide away from predators. 

Fawns are well camouflaged and born with a lack of scent to help them survive the early stages of life. While mother deer is away looking for food, fawns bed down in their hiding spot quietly waiting for mom to return. This is the case for the first couple of weeks after birth. 

During this time, people sometimes find baby deer while enjoying the great outdoors and quickly assume the fawn has been abandoned or is in distress.

For many, the first reaction is to intervene and attempt to comfort the young creature. More often than not, abandonment is not the case and its mother will generally return in a few hours to nurse her baby. Rather than jumping in to help the fawn, a good idea is to observe it from a distance and look for signs of injury. If it appears uninjured, not crying and not covered in ants or flies then leave it alone. 

Don’t wander around in the area waiting for the mother to return because she won’t come back with you lingering in the vicinity. A mother doe will keep looking for her fawn for up to 72 hours if she can’t find it in the original location, but if you’re nearby a true abandonment may occur. If this happens the young deer will most likely become prey to predators or scavengers.

If you happen to be out with your dogs, it’s best to leash them to keep stress on the fawn to a minimum. Never touch or pick up a fawn as your scent will be transferred to the animal. 

The sight of a cute fawn pulls at the heart strings of all nature lovers. Try to stay calm and assess the situation carefully. If you truly feel concerned about a fawn, feel it’s in immediate danger and have given the mother deer an appropriate time frame to rejoin her baby, call the SPCA for a referral to a local wildlife rehabilitation center.