Friday, 30 May 2014

Fawning over fawns

It is that time of the year again. Fawns have been hitting the ground running for the past two weeks or so and never before have I had this many calls from people who think they have found an orphaned fawn...

Just to set the record straight. Just because you see a fawn by itself does not make it an orphan. Mother deer leave their babies hidden when they go off and eat. They return 2-3 times daily to feed the fawns.


I will give you that deer are not always smart about where they hide their babies, but as it stands the vast majority of fawns that come into rehab have no business being here but where abducted by humans.

Abduction is of course not always the case: I applaud the gentleman who jumped into the Nith River to save a fawn that had a foot stuck and was at risk of being swept away.

man-braves-nith-waters-to-rescue-fawn

Well done sir! And he did the right thing and turned the animal over to an Authorized Wildlife Custodian and this fawn is now safe and sound and being cared for by professionals.

I also applaud the Brampton Humane Society who brought out a fawn that was found next to its dead mother. Job well done!

Both these fawns need to be here and are doing fine.

This morning I had a call from a long ways away from here from someone who had found a fawn that she felt was in very bad shape because it was just laying there. I had my suspicions and because it was so far away I could not go out there and have a look. I made a call to an awesome vet I know in the area who readily agreed to drive out and go and see that fawn (free of charge). He called me back later and said the fawn was fine and not in trouble at all. He is ensuring the fawn will be returned to where it was found and hopefully the mother deer will come and get it tonight. (Thank you Dr. Ben!)

In my experience the problem is that people generally do not understand the animals behavior and use human standards to make judgement calls. Human standards or even pet standards don't work for wildlife.

The fawn that was just laying there was actually doing what fawns do when they are scared. They will lay flat to the ground and not move and they hope you don't see them...This is natural behavior and just because you think this fawn looks calm it is not.  I can assure you it is scared to death and you might just be inducing a 100% lethal condition called Capture Myopathy in this fawn. Capture Myopathy is on a 2 day delay, so the full effects can't be seen until much later.

fawn hunkered down and trying to hide
Mother deer will gladly have their babies back and will spent 48 hours or so looking for them if they go missing, so unless the fawn is sick or injured I will tell people to go and take it back to where they found it when they call me about a fawn.

This year there has been an alarming trend with people who have kept the fawn in their possession for a week or more. This is not a good thing as it prevents people from being able to reunite fawn and mother, but it also often results in cases of unintentional cruelty to animals. As was the case here. This fawn was kept by someone for a week and due to lack of knowledge they where feeding it not nearly enough.
This fawn is emaciated and dehydtrated

look at how droopy his ears are

This fawn was unable to come back from this severe condition and I made the decision to euthanize it several days later.


Taking care of a fawn is not easy and it requires a lot of knowledge. It is imperative that the fawn does not become habituated to humans or dogs. It might look cute to see a fawn play with a dog, but imagine what a strange dog might do to the fawn/deer. Human habituation in it self is also detrimental I wrote another blog about that...clifton-hills-pet-deer-oh-deer.html

They also need to be fed properly. Store bought goats milk will do in a pinch, but is not a long term solution.

So if you do see a fawn and it does not look emaciated or dehydrated (like the fawn in the pics above) or it doesn't appear injured please just cherish the moment and move on to let the mother deer return and take care of her baby. If you are in doubt, do not hesitate to contact us or another rehab facility before you take the fawn home. A list of rehab facilities in ON can be found here: Authorized Wildlife Custodions

If you can't reach a rehabber,  a vet, MNR office or your local humane society/SPCA can also assist.

For those of you who are currently in the possession of a fawn or other wildlife note that you are breaking the law and that you are not doing the animal any favors. Please do the right thing and turn the animal over to any of the above mentioned places. What you are doing is not in the animals best interest...


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