Orphaned or Abandoned Deer Fawns – Don’t be a Fawn Kidnapper!

White-tailed deer fawns are born April through July, with the majority of fawns born in June. It is common for people to encounter white-tailed deer fawns motionless and without their mother, then mistakenly assume it is orphaned or abandoned. In almost all cases, fawns are only temporarily left by their mothers for protection and need no human intervention.

Female deer, called does, typically leave their fawns bedded down for extended periods of time while they are away foraging in order to avoid leading predators to their young. If you see a fawn that appears abandoned, leave it alone. People don’t often see that mother deer return at dawn and dusk to move and/or feed their young. Keep children and pets away and give the fawn space to allow the doe to return to its baby.

Young fawns are “hiders” and will not try to run away when they are approached. If you encounter a fawn, do not handle or disturb it; this causes unnecessary stress for the animal. If you have already handled or “rescued” a fawn, and less than 24 hours have passed, you should return it immediately to the exact place where you found it. Its mother will be looking for it.

You should only seek help for a fawn if it is showing obvious signs of injury or distress, such as wandering and crying incessantly, eyes swollen, has visible wounds or broken bones, or if there is a dead doe nearby. If an animal is displaying these signs, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, veterinarian or the Animal Protection Police for further assistance and instruction. Do not feed the fawn or attempt to care for it yourself. Raising a wild animal in captivity is illegal in Virginia unless you have a wildlife rehabilitation permit issued by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

If you have questions about whether an animal is in need of help or to locate a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, contact the Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline toll-free at 1-855-571-9003. This helpline is a collaborative effort between the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Wildlife Services and is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Fairfax County Animal Protection Police can be reached through the Police non-emergency line at 703-691-2131.

More information can be found at: https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/injured/.