The best chance a young wild animal has to survive is in its natural environment under the care of its mother.
CONCORD, NH – In the coming weeks, deer will begin giving birth around the state. The majority of deer fawns are born in New Hampshire in May and June. Each spring, many New Hampshire residents see young fawns by themselves and fear the worst. Has the mother died? Has she abandoned her fawn? The answer in most cases is “no.” The doe is likely not far off, waiting to return to feed her newborn fawn.
Adult deer can be easily detected by predators due to their scent and large size. Because of this, does will spend long periods of time away from their fawns to disassociate their scent from the fawn and keep them safe from predators. For the first month of life, the doe will only visit the fawn a few times a day to nurse quickly before leaving again, although usually not going too far.
Unfortunately, well-intentioned but misguided individuals see fawns alone, assume they are abandoned, and take them in to “help” them. Most of the time they are removing the fawn from the care of its mother, who was waiting to return. The best chance a young wild animal has to survive is in its natural environment under the care of its mother. If you see a fawn (or any other young wildlife) and suspect it has been abandoned or orphaned do not move the animal. Contact NH Fish & Game by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 603-271-2461 and make a report. Fish & Game staff can assess the situation and help determine the best course of action. In most cases it is best to leave the fawn alone and allow time for the mother to return to move it to a different location.
Botton line: Never take in wildlife. Only qualified people with special rehabilitator permits, issued through N.H. Fish and Game, may take in and care for injured or orphaned wildlife. Improper care of injured or orphaned wildlife often leads to their sickness or death. For example, deer fawns that have been fed cow’s milk will develop severe diarrhea (scours). Every year, the state’s only licensed fawn rehabilitator has several fawns die from scours because they have been improperly fed or cared for by the public. Unless you have rehabilitator credentials, it is illegal to have in your possession or take New Hampshire wildlife from the wild and keep it in captivity. For a full list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators, go to http://www.wildlife.state.nh.
Please remember that the best way to help young wildlife is by keeping them WILD. For more information, see http://www.wildlife.state.nh.