They’re cute and defenceless – and they may look lonely – but baby deer and other wild animals should not be touched or moved.
Every year, well-intentioned people try to “rescue” fawns and other young
ungulates mistakenly thought to be orphaned, but these interventions do
more harm than good.
Mother deer, elk and other species may leave their young alone for long
periods. To avoid attracting predators, a mother may only return a few
times a day to nurse. When she does return, she can be expected to defend
her baby from real or perceived threats – including nearby humans and
Remember: It’s typical for young ungulates to lie quietly in vegetation
for hours at a time, especially in the first two weeks of their lives when
they’re not strong enough to follow their mothers. Fawns are as small as a
cat when born, and their camouflage and lack of scent hide them from
Although these babies may look abandoned, they are not. However, if humans
remove them from their rest spots, they can end up being orphaned.
If you see a baby deer, elk or moose, stay away. Keep your children and
family pets away, too, because they could be injured. Their fawns and
calves are helpless and their mothers protect them from real or imagined
threats. This means humans of all ages and their pets within reach. Give
them lots of room when you are nearby.
* If you find a fawn that you think may be orphaned, these are things that
you should do:
- If the fawn is lying quietly and appears uninjured, leave it alone. It is normal for a mother deer to leave her baby alone for periods of time. Remember that the mother deer will be wary of you and is likely watching you, so your presence in the area could discourage her from returning. Leave the area.
- Keep pets away from the area.
- If you think the fawn is not being cared for by its mother, return the next day to check on it. If it is in the exact same spot and bleating, it may be orphaned.
- If you do believe the fawn is orphaned, or if it is injured, contact the Conservation Officer Service at 1 877 952-7277 or a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible, but do not touch or move the fawn. If you know the fawn is inured or orphaned (i.e., there is evidence the parent is dead) it will need prompt attention and you should make contact immediately.
It is important to handle deer orphans carefully and minimize human contact in order to give them the best chance of surviving and returning to the wild.
Learn more at www.wrn.bc.ca/find_a_local_rehabilitator.htm.