Contact(s): Amanda Kamps, DNR wildlife health conservation specialist, 608-712-5280
May 7, 2019
MADISON - As the weather warms and people spend more time outdoors, state wildlife officials remind everyone that many young wild animals are born this time of year, including white-tailed deer fawns. Newborn fawns hide quietly for long periods of time while their mothers feed nearby. A quiet fawn found alone is not abandoned. To ensure their safety and to keep wildlife wild, the public should enjoy viewing fawns from afar.
According to Department of Natural Resources wildlife health conservation specialist Amanda Kamps, co-chair of the Keep Wildlife Wild team, people often come across a fawn laying down alone in their yard or even next to a building and mistakenly think the fawn has been abandoned. In fact, a fawn that is lying down quietly has not been abandoned; the mother doe is nearby.
"The best chance of survival for a young fawn is to be quiet and still, concealing itself in its surrounding environment," said Kamps. "Very young fawns are not able to keep up with their mom, so instead she will leave her fawn concealed in a place where she feels it is safe."
The natural protective behavior of a mother doe is different than that of human mothers. Hiding quietly is a fawn's best protection from predators, especially in the first few days of life. Because young fawns have very little scent, predators cannot see, hear or smell them so long as they stay still and quiet. It is typical for a mother doe to leave her young fawns unattended except for brief nursing visits a few times a day. Occasionally, she will move her fawn to a new hiding place.
What do I do if I find a fawn?
"The best thing to do if you find a fawn is to not touch it and leave it alone," said Kamps. "It is understandable that people want to help and are concerned about a fawn found alone. However, the best help that you can provide the fawn is to leave it where you found it and try to reduce human and domestic animal activity in the surrounding area. Reducing activity in the area will allow the mother doe to return to her fawn and provide it the care that it needs."
If someone has questions about a fawn, or if thinks one is injured or orphaned, they should contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator near you. Rehabilitators can help you assess the situation and determine what is best for the fawn. A directory of licensed wildlife rehabilitators that accept fawns can be found on our website. Visit dnr.wi.gov and search "rehab." Not all wildlife rehabilitators have the ability to care for fawns, so be sure to talk with a wildlife rehabilitator that does. Never touch a fawn without first speaking with a wildlife professional.
More information on fawns and keeping wildlife wild can be found by visiting dnr.wi.gov and searching keyword "keep wildlife wild." This page has information specific to fawns that you can print at home, including a decision-making tool [PDF] to help you determine if a fawn should be left alone or if it needs help. If you require additional assistance, you can also contact the DNR Call Center at 1-888-936-7463.
State wildlife officials thank the public for their assistance in keeping wildlife wild. And remember, a young fawn's best chance for survival is with its mother.