Experts: Don't Adopt '˜Lost'™ Deer Fawns

Experts: Don't Adopt '˜Lost'™ Deer Fawns
Human handling and disturbance of fawns can cause a doe to shy away or even desert her offspring. (SC DNR image)

"Young deer fawns are without a doubt cute and cuddly, but if taken into captivity they grow into semi-tame adult deer that can become quite dangerous."


Human handling and disturbance of fawns can cause a doe to shy away or even desert her offspring. (SC DNR image)



From South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources

If a deer fawn is found alone in the woods, leave it there, advises a state wildlife biologist.


Its mother has not abandoned it; she is probably nearby. Removing a fawn from the forest is also illegal because the animal is being taken outside the legal season for taking deer, which is the hunting season.

"Many people who come upon a solitary spotted fawn in the woods or along a roadway mistakenly assume the animal has been deserted by its mother and want to take the apparently helpless creature home to care for it," Charles Ruth, Big Game Program coordinator for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), said. "Young fawns like this have not been abandoned but are still in the care of a doe."


The apparently "helpless" deer fawns born during April, May and June in South Carolina will begin daily movements with their mothers in about three or four weeks. Human handling and disturbance of fawns can cause a doe to shy away or even desert her offspring. Also, a bleating response by the fawn can summon nearby predators.

"It's part of nature's plan for a doe deer to leave her fawn or fawns alone for their first few weeks of life," Ruth said. "The reason for this unusual maternal action is that the fawn at this age is better protected away from the doe. The presence of the doe nearby would attract predators because the doe lacks the protective coloration of the fawn, and the older and larger doe has a much stronger odor."

A fawn that appears abandoned is merely awaiting a visit from its mother, according to Ruth. A doe, after brief periods of feeding and grooming her fawn, will spend much of her day feeding and resting somewhat removed from her young. The fawn ordinarily stays bedded down as if sleeping, but will occasionally move short distances to new bedding sites.

"Each spring and summer the SCDNR gets many calls from people who have discovered these 'lost' deer," Ruth said. "Young fawns are without a doubt cute and cuddly, but if taken into captivity they grow into semi-tame adult deer that can become quite dangerous." Adult buck deer, no matter how they were raised, are especially dangerous during the breeding season. Even does raised by humans are unpredictable.

Occasionally, "tame" deer seriously injure people, according to Ruth, and in cases where the deer are a threat to humans, the deer sometimes have to be killed.

People often ask the SCDNR if it needs deer fawns for its research projects. Ruth said although the SCDNR is actively engaged in deer research, current studies do not involve captive animals.

Recommended for You

Fishing How-To

Why You'll Lose Your Next Big Bass

Larry Larsen

Now that you know you might screw it up the next time a big fish bites, let's fix it.

Bass

MLF Pros: What's With the Moon?

G&F Online Staff

We're told to pay attention to the lunar phases. What do bass pros think?

Field Tested: Lightweight Raingear

David Draper - May 30, 2019

Our picks for stuffable protection against any weather.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New Abu Garcia Baitcasting Reels

In the booth of one of fishing's all-time great reel makers, Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead and Andrew Wheeler of Pure Fishing discuss one of the brand new baitcasting reels from Abu Garcia being released at ICAST 2019.

Electric Filet Knife from Bubba Blades

As OSG's Lynn Burkhead looks on, Josh Neville shows off the cordless and corded versions of a new electric filet knife from Bubba Blades.

Mustad's New Tungsten Weights

Long known as one of the world's premiere hook makers, Mustad's Reid McKinstry shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead that the company is now one of the leaders in making tungsten terminal tackle products for anglers.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Records

Top 10 Biggest Pike World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - August 19, 2015

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the...

Panfish

Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.

Bass

4 Tips When Jig Fishing For Bass

Chris Schneider - August 25, 2015

A 7 pound giant taken on a jig during the pre-spawn transistion in the Midwest. Although...

See More Stories

More Whitetail

Whitetail

Quick Tip: Focus on Bedding Areas for Whitetails

G&F Online Staff - August 05, 2019

Finding a buck's bedding area is key to setting your deer stand in the right place.

Whitetail

Ground Zero: West Virginia's Record Bucks

Larry Case - February 16, 2019

Fayette and Kanawha counties are the place in West Virginia for big bucks if you are up to the...

Whitetail

Ground Zero: Wisconsin's Record Bucks

Ted Peck - February 17, 2019

Wisconsin's Buffalo County has consistently produced loads of 'Booner' bucks over the past...

See More Whitetail

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×