RALEIGH, N.C. - The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is reminding the public that they should not approach, touch, feed, or move fawns seen hiding in the grass, brush or other vegetation this time of year.
Though white-tailed deer fawns may look abandoned and very much alone, they are oftentimes just waiting for the female deer to return from foraging for food. Contact with a human may do more harm than good.
"White-tailed deer are a hider species, which means the female will hide her fawn in vegetation during the first two or three weeks of its life as she feeds," said Evin Stanford, deer biologist for the Commission. "Spotted and lacking scent, fawns are well camouflaged and usually remain undetected by predators. The doe will return to the fawn several times a day to nurse and clean it, staying only a few minutes each time before leaving again to seek food."
An otherwise well-intentions person may never see the doe and think the fawn needs help or food. But staying away is a better option. The fawn is well-equipped to protect itself. By the time it is 5 days old, already it can outrun a human. At 3 to 6 weeks of age, fawns can escape most predators.
Unless a fawn is in imminent danger - for example, under attack by dogs or injured in a tractor mowing accident - the best decision always is to leave it alone. If you are concerned about the fawn, leave the area and come back to check on it the next day. Do not remain in the area. Does are very cautious and will not approach a fawn if they sense danger.
If a fawn is in the exact location when you check on it the following day and bleating loudly, or if a fawn is lying near a dead doe (likely at the side of a highway), do not take the fawn into your possession. It is illegal to remove a fawn from the wild. Only fawn rehabilitators with a permit from the Commission may keep white-tailed fawns in captivity for eventual release. Instead, call the Wildlife Resources Commission at 919-707-0050 for the contact information of a local, permitted fawn rehabilitator or see a list of fawn rehabilitators.
About the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission
Since 1947, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has been dedicated to the conservation and sustainability of the state's fish and wildlife resources through research, scientific management, wise use, and public input. The Commission is the state regulatory agency responsible for the enforcement of fishing, hunting, trapping and boating laws and provides programs and opportunities for wildlife-related educational, recreational and sporting activities. To learn more, visit www.ncwildlife.org
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