Spring is the time of year when everything begins anew. This is especially true for wildlife that is having their young.
Conservation officers devote a tremendous amount of time and resources during the spring and early summer months taking care of wildlife that people think are orphaned, abandoned or injured. There are a few guidelines that need to be followed.
First of all, it is against the law to possess or make pets of wildlife. People often think that there is some license that they can obtain that will allow them to possess wildlife. There is no license that allows you to possess animals taken from wild stock of the state. The best course of action, at least for the well-being of the wildlife, is to leave them alone.
There is no better example of this than with deer fawns. Young fawns are equipped with only a couple of defenses. They are born with virtually no scent and the lay motionless in the face of danger and let their camouflage hide them.
Mother deer, which do have an odor to them, will purposely stay a reasonable distance from their new born fawns to keep predators from smelling them and discovering the helpless fawn. The mother is rarely very far away and will return often to nurse. Well meaning people stumble across just such a fawn and pick it up, thinking that it’s orphaned. This is a huge mistake.
Once again, the best course of action is to leave it be. Could you imagine if some well meaning stranger drove by and picked your kids up out of the front yard while they were playing just because he didn’t see you in the immediate vicinity?
Picking up a deer fawn is a death sentence in most cases, but maybe not for the reasons that you think. Contrary to popular belief, a mother deer will not abandon a fawn because it has human scent on it. I’m not sure where this got started, but is absolutely untrue.
Handling a baby deer does, however, leave your scent on the otherwise scentless deer, making it easier for predators to find and kill them. Other times people pick up fawns and try to raise them. Most do a very poor job of this and once the fawn becomes sick they call us to come get it. By this time it’s usually too late to save it.
Even if the best case scenario happens and we’re able to raise a fawn to maturity, it still never has much of a chance. It eventually has to be let go and then it’s not always equipped with the skills to survive in the wild.
Remember, baby wildlife does not make good pets. Don’t be fooled by their cute and cuddly appearance. They are still wild animals. As they grow, they may become meaner, more dangerous, and more aggressive. Most people who pick up wildlife mean well, but if you really care about the well-being of the critters, you will leave them alone. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s also the law.