What You Should Know & Should Not Do If You Find An ‘Abandoned’ Deer Fawn

What You Should Know & Should Not Do If You Find An “Abandoned” Deer Fawn In The Field

Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife
Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife

Delaware –-(Ammoland.com)- The fawning season for white-tailed deer in Delaware has begun, with most fawns born during the last week of May through the first week of June.

With the season’s onset come the inevitable calls to DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife about “abandoned” fawns, and how “doing the right thing” means “saving” these newborns by bringing them home or to a wildlife rehabilitator.

Actually that’s the wrong thing to do and the wrong approach to take with your concern, according to DNREC wildlife biologist Joe Rogerson: “There are a number of things people who remove fawns from the field may not realize,” he said. “First and foremost, the fawn hasn’t been ‘abandoned’ at all.

“Newborn fawns need to feed every few hours so the mother never strays far. So even if a fawn appears to be alone, the doe is likely bedded close by,” Rogerson said. “Fawns don’t become active enough to start traveling with their mothers until they are about two months old, so the survival instinct of a newborn fawn is to stay very still and ‘hide’ from predators.”

Furthermore, research has shown that many fawns cared for by people have a greatly decreased chance of survival once they are released back into the wild, compared to their counterparts raised by their mothers. Fawns raised in the wild are able to learn survival instincts from their mothers that people simply cannot teach them.

Not only is removing a fawn from its hiding place not in the animal’s best interest, it is also illegal for an individual in Delaware to possess a live white-tailed deer. If found guilty, such an offense is punishable by a fine not less than $250, nor more than $1,000, plus the costs of prosecution and court costs; the person may also be fined and imprisoned for up to 30 days. In addition, any deer held illegally in captivity will be removed by the Division.

“The bottom line is, if you really care about the fawn and its well-being, please leave the animal alone. Its mother will return and the animal will have a far greater chance at survival than if you take it home,” Rogerson added.

For more information about fawns or Delaware’s white-tailed deer, please contact Joe Rogerson, DNREC Wildlife Section, at 302-735-3600.