One of the most endearing and enchanting of our local wildlife species has to be the deer, especially when they are fawns. The black-tailed deer are the only deer species found on Vancouver Island. This is the time of year when newborn fawns begin to appear in our neighboring areas – often very close to human habitation.
The fawns that are born in the early spring are programmed to lay curled up in the tall grass while the mother leaves to forage away from her young. This is normal. The fawn does not have a scent to attract predators. It will lie still for several hours until the mother returns to nurse the young. If it is a very safe location she may leave it in or near the same location for a few days, returning when no one is around to tend to her young. When they become strong enough to follow her, you may then see mom nearby leading the way across the roads with the babies (often twins) following behind.
Well-meaning humans often find young fawns and assume that they have been abandoned or orphaned and will pick them up. Mother deer will call frequently trying to locate their young when time to nurse. But if you, a predator, are in the area, the mother will stay hidden and silent until you go away.
Call MARS before you interfere. Watch from a distance or return at a later time. If the fawn appears to be in immediate danger by being in the middle of the road, you can move it off to the side and a bit into the bushes. Wear gloves if possible, although it is a myth that a mother will not return if you touch the baby. If there are dogs then get the dogs under control, put them indoors or on a leash.
Only if a dead doe is found near the fawn should you assume that it is orphaned. MARS has had several successes with returning “orphaned” fawns to their mothers – sometimes hours or even a full day later. (We do not recommend any delay). Never attempt to feed a fawn cow’s milk. The wrong formula can quickly cause irreversible harm. They are vulnerable to digestive disorders as their complicated multi-chambered stomaches adapt to the types of foods found in the environment.
MARS has a special fawn enclosure (the Bambi Bungalow) where we can care for truly orphaned or injured fawns. Once they are weaned they are transferred to another temporary home until they are released back to the local herd. We do not rescue fawns older than about a month, as past this age deer become too stressed by captivity for any treatment.
If you hit or see a deer hit on the road in our area, when possible, try to move it well off the road and if alive but injured, report it to the RAPP line, 1-877-952-7277.
Please visit our website wingtips.org to view Facebook and YouTube videos to follow our progress and find out what special events are happening within your community. To report injured wildlife call 250-337-2021 or for emergencies 1-250-897-2257.