Let’s Talk Fawns

by Debra Spilar

Reading time: 3 minutes

Procyon Wildlife have been receiving many phone calls regarding newborn fawns, therefore it is time to make a post.

Those who call ask what they should do for the fawn … Leave it alone, do not touch, move or attempt to feed it. Let me explain why.

Deer deliver their newborns in the strangest of places. Residents have found newborn deer on their lawn, in their garden, beside the house, etc. Even if she leaves them in a suburban area during quiet morning hours, returning later to find a busy neighbourhood full of people, pets, and vehicles, she will wait until the area is quiet and then move the baby to a better location during the night.

So if you come across a deer sitting quietly underneath a bush or alone in a field, with its head up and alert, and not crying or shivering, this is normal behaviour and the fawn is doing fine and no intervention is needed.

Here’s the scoop. Deer do not have their legs under them immediately and need time to rest after birth. A healthy fawn will curl up, and sleep most of the day and only move their head.

Most calls we get are because they think the fawn is in distress or mom is nowhere to be found and they are orphaned. This may seem scary for us, but in the wild this is normal.

Mom actually leaves during the day for two reasons: first..she is off feeding and second..distracting predators from her baby by keeping her scent a distance from the fawn.

You see, fawns are born with underdeveloped scent glands, so mom keeps them hidden from predators by taking her own scent away from the babies. This way predators cannot find them.

While mom is away foraging for food, the babies will remain as still and quiet as possible to not attract attention. Mom will come by a couple of times a day to feed and care for them (unless something tragic has happened to her), but don’t expect her to come back until dusk and certainly don’t expect her if humans are hanging around.

Mother deer can leave their babies alone for 12 to 16 hours a day, usually staying within a 200-yard distance to keep an eye on them.

Now having said all that…if you do see a fawn having any of these signs such as wandering about, crying excessively, shivering, laying on its side, has flies buzzing about it, the tips of the ears are bent, or the mother is found dead nearby – contact a nearby wildlife rehabilitator asap.

Otherwise consider yourself fortunate to have the gift of a fawn nearby, enjoy the experience, respect Mother Nature and let the Mom do what comes naturally.

Let’s Talk Fawns
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