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Thursday, June 13, 2013
The wildlife rehabilitation community in Southwest Virginia is full of fawns; we are at capacity. We are advised the Wildlife Center of Virginia also has no further space for fawns.
The reason is what we rehabbers call “kidnapped fawns.”
For the first two weeks after fawns are born, they lie quietly where the mom leaves them. The mother visits daily, usually near or after nightfall, spends the night and leaves at first light.
The reason? Fawns have no scent for two weeks; their mothers do, and it is the mother’s scent that lures predators to her offspring. The mom will often relocate the fawn.
After two weeks, the fawns get up and move about and may bed down on a lawn, a median strip or along a roadside. To see an isolated, uninjured fawn is far from unusual and does not constitute abandonment. Thus, they should not be “rescued.”
The life expectancy of a fawn in the wild is dreadful. Our understanding is that captured fawns have a 70 percent mortality in the first year. Too many people pick up the fawn and keep it several days before calling for help. The fawns are often fed the wrong food, which often can cause lethal gastrointestinal disturbances. To deliver the fawn to a rehabber at that point is almost certain death.
All fawns are small and adorable, but we must resist the urge to save them. The best rules to follow are these:
n If you find a fawn in a dangerous area, move it to a safe site near where you found it. Do it quickly, quietly and without fanfare. Don’t tell neighbors and friends; this is not a photo-op. The more the fawn is handled, the more harm done.
n If you find a fawn wandering about, leave it alone.
n If a fawn is injured, falling over or bleating (calling for its mom at night), etc., or if the mom is dead, only then should you get it to a wildlife shelter.
n If in doubt, call a licensed rehabber before moving the fawn.
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