Fawn pulls through after hit by mower

The prognosis was not good; it was a bad break and she would be very young for such an intense surgery to fix it

SUNRISE THE FAWN is fed by French intern Marielle Fassenet.

SUNRISE THE FAWN is fed by French intern Marielle Fassenet.

Black tailed deer are a common sight around Vancouver Island and in summer many people enjoy watching the spotted fawns following their mothers.

However, the fawns are not able to follow their mothers around town right away. The does often leave their fawns for hours at a time to go feed.

Fawns are born with very little smell which, coupled with a natural instinct to hide in tall grass or bushes, usually makes it safer for them to stay put instead of following their mother, possibly getting attacked by predators and then not having the speed or agility to get away.

However, on June 8, the opposite proved true for one unlucky fawn.

Hiding in the grass in a hay field on Headquarters Rd, the fawn was hit with a tractor-mower. This unfortunately happens a lot and many don’t survive, but this one was rushed to Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society with her left femur broken.

The prognosis was not good; it was a bad break and she would be very young for such an intense surgery to fix it. But Maj Birch, the manager from MARS, took her to see Dr. Stacey Gastis at Sunrise Vet Clinic to assess the severity of the injury; no one was very hopeful for a positive result.

The surgery was long and complicated. Traction was applied to the femur to straighten it, then pins were inserted into the bone to keep it in place. Twice throughout the surgery the fawn stopped breathing and the anesthesia was turned off so that artificial resuscitation could take place.

That evening, Maj came back with the fawn, still alive, with six pins in her leg in place of a cast to stabilize the broken bones, but her fight for life was not over yet.

“It was terrible,” Marielle Fassenet, an international intern from the Dijon region in France and the primary fawn caregiver, says about the fawn’s first night after the surgery, “because she was really weak and lost lots of blood. We had to monitor her every hour overnight to check if [the leg] was still bleeding, or if she’d lost circulation [to the foot due to the pressure of the bandages].”

No one thought she would last the night.

By the next morning the fawn’s leg had stopped bleeding, she was drinking from a bottle, and trying to walk around. She was nicknamed Sunrise in tribute to the work done by Sunrise Vet. At first, she could not walk without the help of a sling to support her rear end, but a few days later she was walking with a limp, and was moved outside.

Her recovery was fast and almost without any hitches. A couple weeks into her recovery, the wound site became infected; but thanks to the diligent work of MARS interns and some antibiotics, the infection quickly cleared up.

One month after her mishap with the mower, the bone was pronounced healed and the pins removed. A couple days later, she was introduced to the other orphaned fawns.

At first Sunrise was shy of the other fawns; she had had little contact with other fawns during her recovery, and did not know how to act with them. Fortunately, a few days was all it took for her to integrate herself with them.

When asked how Sunrise was currently doing, Marielle replied, “She is running around, she bucks, she goes ‘woo-hoo,’ and she eats like crazy.” All good things for a developing fawn to be doing.

Soon she will be transferred to a another larger facility, where she will continue to grow into an adult, then be released with the other deer into the surrounding area.

This may be the last year MARS will be able to transfer their deer to this larger facility, so in order to accommodate larger and more numerous fawns, a Bambi Bungalow was built. So far it consists of a large circular pen that older fawns have enough room to run around, hide and forage in.

However, the work on the bungalow is not finished, still requiring an enclosure for shelter and planting of browse plants; MARS staff are waiting for the fawns to be old enough to transfer before finishing it, as they do not want to stress the deer, or get them used to human sounds.

Sunrise and the other deer are given browse collected daily by interns, willow being one of their favourites. The fawns would weaned by their mother when they are about 16 weeks and so are also fed special black-tail deer milk formula imported from the U.S. until they are old enough to be weaned.

As it is imported, and a specialized formula it is very expensive to feed our fawns. If you wish to donate to MARS’s Fawn Fund to support the raising of the orphaned deer, or find injured or orphaned wildlife, you can phone MARS at 250-337-2021, or call in at 6817 Headquarters in Merville.

Unfortunately, MARS is unequipped to rehabilitate older deer and only accept young, spotted fawns during the month of June. If you find an injured deer you may call a conservation officer at 1-877-952-7277.

Sandy Fairfield is the educational co-ordinator for the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS). The MARS column appears every second Friday. This column was written by Elizabeth Lowes.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

One of the rescues at CATS - Cat Advocates Teaching & Saving Society’s new location on Knight Road in Comox. Photo by Erin Halushak
Feline rescue organization growing into new space

Cat Advocates Teaching & Saving Society opens new facility on Knight Road

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Neighbours have reached out to media on several occasions with complaints about the property

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Tentative COVID-19 vaccine site chosen in the Comox Valley

B.C. is moving into Phase 2 of its COVID-19 mass immunization plan

Cumberland is considering downtown densification proposals, and with that comes questions around parking, among other things. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Water bottling ban, parking key changes for Cumberland zoning

Bylaw on amendments still need adoption following March 2 hearing

Arzeena Hamir, working her booth at the Comox Valley Farmers Market. LUSH Valley was recognized last month as a partner of the year by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets. Photo by Bill Jorgensen
LUSH Valley recognized for collaboration with Comox Valley Farmers’ Market

They won Partner of the Year award by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

The Courtenay Fire Department hopes to start a new recruit training program in mid-2021, pending Provincial Health Orders. Scott Stanfield photo
Courtenay Fire Department gets creative

Due to public health orders resulting from COVID, the Courtenay Fire Department… Continue reading

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Most Read