CONCORD, NH– Wildlife has begun giving birth around the state, with the majority of deer fawns in New Hampshire being born in May and June. Each spring, many New Hampshire residents see young wildlife by themselves and fear the worst. Has the mother died? Has she abandoned her baby? The answer in most cases is NO. The mother is likely not far off, waiting to return to feed her newborn.
Unfortunately, well-intentioned, but misguided, individuals see young alone, assume they are abandoned, and take them in to “help” them. Most of the time, they are removing the young 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 N.H. Fish and Game Dispatch at (603) 271-3361, e-mail dispatch@email@example.com, or our Wildlife Division at (603) 271-2461, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to make a report. Fish and Game staff can assess the situation and help determine the best course of action. In most cases it is best to leave the young alone and allow time for the mother to return to move it to a different location.
Adult deer can be detected easily 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.
NEVER take in wildlife. You could be exposing yourself to rabies, which is a fatal disease. Additionally, picking up any new born could lead to that animal being euthanized for required testing. 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 to take New Hampshire wildlife from the wild and keep it in captivity. For a full list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators, go to www.wildnh.com/wildlife/rehabilitators.html.
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