YOU CARE, LEAVE IT THERE
DEC Advises: Do Not Disturb Fawns and Other Young
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today
reminded New Yorkers to keep their distance and not to disturb newborn fawns or
other young wildlife as many animals are in the peak season for giving birth or
Finding a fawn deer lying by itself is fairly common. Many people assume
that young wildlife found alone are abandoned, helpless and need assistance for
their survival. In nearly all cases this is a mistake, and typically human
interaction does more damage than good.
If you see a fawn or other newborn wildlife, enjoy your encounter, but
for the sake of their well being, it is important to keep it brief and maintain
Young wildlife quickly venture into the world on
shaky legs or fragile wings. While most are learning survival from one or both
parents, some normally receive little or no parental care. Often, wild animal
parents stay away from their young when people are near. For all of these young
animals, the perils of survival are a natural part of life in the wild. Some
will not survive. However, young wildlife that learn
these important survival skills are the most fit and usually live the longest.
White-tailed deer fawns present a good example of how human intervention
with young wildlife can be problematic. Most fawns are born during late May and
early June. While fawns are able to walk shortly after birth, they spend most
of their first several days lying still. During this period a fawn is also
usually left alone by its mother except when nursing. People do occasionally
find a lone fawn and mistakenly assume it has been orphaned or abandoned, which
is very rare. In such a case, fawns should not be picked up. In fact, if human
presence is detected by the doe, the doe will delay its next visit to nurse.
Human scent can also put the fawn at risk by attracting predators to the site.
fawn's best chance to survive lies in being raised by its mother. Fawns nurse
three to four times a day, usually for less than 30 minutes at a time, but
otherwise the doe keeps her distance. This helps reduce the chances that she
will attract a predator to the fawn. The fawn's protective coloration, near
lack of scent and ability to remain motionless all help it avoid detection by
predators and people.
the end of its second week, a fawn begins to move about more and spend more
time with its mother. It also begins to eat grass and leaves. At about ten
weeks of age, fawns are no longer dependent on milk, although they continue to
nurse occasionally into the fall. During August, all deer begin to grow their
winter coat and fawns lose their spots during this process.
Should you find a fawn
or other young wildlife, If You Care, Leave It There.
It may be difficult to do, but this is the real act of kindness and in nearly
all cases that is the best thing to do. DO NOT consider young wildlife as
possible pets. This is illegal and harmful to the animal. Wild animals do not make good pets; they are
not well suited for life in captivity and they may carry diseases that can be
given to people. Resist the temptation to take them out of the wild.
For more information and answers to frequently asked questions about
young wildlife, visit the DEC website at: