Baby fawns should be left alone

This is the time of the year when people often find baby fawns alone in the woods or in an open meadow. It is easy to think that the new-born has been abandoned by its mother. Too many fawns are often picked up and brought home by people who think they are doing a good deed.

The sad part is the fact that most of them are simply being fawn-napped from their natural mothers. The West Virginia Division of Natural resources (WVDNR) personnel urge everyone to leave young wildlife alone.

First of all, picking up a young fawn is illegal. It is also unsafe and all too often detrimental to the animal’s health.

Fawn are born thin, skin and bone, not fat and plump. This doesn’t mean they are starving. The mother does not stay with her babies They will come to their newborn to nurse and groom them quite often twice within a 24 hour period.

Picking up a newborn fawn or even touching or petting them greatly increases the risk of harm to the young animal and to the individual as well. Humans leave behind a scent that can attract a predator. The human scent can cause the mother to abandon their young fawn.

The mother will return quite often at night to properly care for her baby. Leaving the fawn is how she protects the new-born animal, because the fawn has no scent.

When people handle a young fawn; they not only put themselves at risk of ticks, fleas and lice. They also have a potential to extract disease. Zoonotic diseases are even more dangerous because they can be transmitted from animals to humans, which includes Lyme Disease. This is caused by the bite of a black-legged, “Deer” tick. These ticks are often encountered when handling fawns and the young of other wild animals.

If a fawn is up, walking in circles and bleating or crying continuously; then it could be in need of help. People need to remember they will get up, walk around a little and lay back down.

If one thinks the fawn is in need of help, they should inform the WVDNR. In this area, the number to call is 304-637-0245, which is the Elkins Operations Center.

It is very true, mothers will leave their fawns in the oddest places. Some times they are left near a road, near a pool, or under a porch deck. This is still no reason to disturb a fawn. Some will die, but the vast majority don’t. Even when they are left in dangerous places, most survive and do fine.

Every year, the WVDNR receives numerous calls pertaining to fawns and other young wildlife that have been picked up by well-meaning people. In most of these cases the animals weren’t in any danger at all. However, the removal of a young wild animal from its natural environment will increase the possibility of leading the animal to its death.

Young animals have special dietary needs and this has to be obtained in a natural environment. As the fawn gets older, it must learn survival skills that only a natural setting and parent can provide. Offspring are often left behind and this separation can last for several hours. However, this separation must not be mistaken for abandonment.

All concerned people need to remember that state law prohibits the possession of wildlife without a permit. The fines for illegal possession of wildlife range from $20 to $1,000 and/or up to 100 days in jail.

Everyone who enjoys observing the state’s wildlife need to keep these hard facts in mind for the safety of then animal and themselves. So to make a long story short, lets all give young animals the opportunity to stay wild.


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