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Duration:05:14
Uploaded:2020-03-05
Last sync:2020-03-05 12:30
Taylor explains what to do if you find a baby deer and how you can (or can't) help them.

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Baby deer are adorable with their long legs and their big ears and their bright spots.  They're really cute and we naturally want to see them survive, and when we find them alone in our yard, we want to help them so we rescue them, but this can actually do more harm than good, so today I wanna talk to you about what to do if you find a baby deer in your yard.

(Intro)

Baby deer, or fawns, are born in spring or early summer, and they're very vulnerable when they're first born, and they don't have the strength to follow after their mothers, so female deer will usually hide their fawns in tall grass or brush, but sometimes they'll pick more open areas like our backyards, and then the mothers leave.  

When people find fawns alone, they often assume that they're orphaned or abandoned, but deer have some amazing adaptations to protect their babies and this is one of them.  Female deer will hide their babies and only return at dusk and dawn to feed them.  This way they don't draw too much attention to their babies.  The fawns will then curl up and lay completely still and silent.  Even if other animals or humans approach, the fawns will continue to lay still and hide.  

Also, fawns don't have a strong smell, so if they don't move, it's really hard for a predator to find them, so if you find a baby deer in your yard, the best thing to do is to leave it alone.  The mother is close by and she will return to feed or move her baby, so if you have dogs or children, make sure to keep them inside and away from the fawn.  Also, it's important to avoid watching for the mother.  I know it can be really hard to avoid checking on the baby, but the mother will not return if she senses any predators or threats to the fawn and she'll notice if you're watching the area where her baby is hidden, so try to wait 24 hours before checking on the fawn.

Sometimes the fawn does need help but only if it's showing one of the signs:  If the baby is lying next to a dead doe or if it's bleeding or has an obvious wound or broken bone, or if it's lying on its side or wandering and crying for hours.  If the baby deer is showing these signs, the first thing you should do is contact your local animal control department.  They may be able to take the animal or they can help you find a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.  You might be tempted but please do not give the baby food or water.  Fawns have very sensitive stomachs and they require very specific food, and if you give them the wrong thing, you might actually be hurting them instead of helping.

Also, it's extremely important that you do not handle or move the baby until you've contacted a wildlife rehabilitator.  They'll most likely wanna know exactly where you found the baby and this will determine whether the baby can or should be moved.  The baby could be in an area that's known to have a highly transmissible disease called Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD. 

CWD is a contagious disease found in mule deer, white tailed deer, elk, and moose.  CWD causes neurological damage that leads to starvation, abnormal behavior, and eventually death.  If the fawn you find comes from an area with known cases of CWD, it may not be able to be relocated.  It's very difficult to determine whether a live animal has CWD.  After infection, an animal may not show symptoms for over a year.  Also, scientists don't know exactly how it's spread or at what point the animal becomes contagious, so right now, scientists and biologists are trying to limit the spread of this disease, which means they may not want to risk relocating an animal that was CWD.  

Now here's the hard part.  Unfortunately, sometimes there isn't anything we can do and the best thing to do is to let nature take its course.  That might sound really sad, but please don't disregard this right away.  By allowing a fawn that can't be rescued to pass naturally, you're helping so many other animals, you just might not be able to see them.  Scavengers like young ravens may be just venturing out of their nest and learning to find food.  The fawn will nourish them and help them survive.  Baby foxes are always eagerly awaiting their parents to return with a good meal.  The fawn will help these kits grow healthy and strong.  Also, please keep in mind that there's a natural balance to every ecosystem and there could be too many deer in your area.  

If they are overpopulated, then all the deer will be looking for food and they'll end up stripping the vegetation and harming native plants, so allowing nature to take its course in this case might mean that plants will flourish and more pollinators like butterflies will come around, and this in turn may lead to more songbirds in your area and if there's a stream nearby, it could keep the banks from eroding, which helps even more wildlife, so even though it's hard to accept, the animals that don't survive are benefiting other animals and plants around them.

I hope this has helped you understand what you should and shouldn't do if you find a baby deer.  Thank you for caring and for doing all you can to help.

Just as a reminder, Animal Wonders is not a wildlife rehabilitation center, so if you find a fawn that needs help, make sure to contact your local wildlife rehabilitator.  

Thank you for watching, and if you would like to learn more about wildlife or the animals we care for here at Animal Wonders, be sure to subscribe and we'll see you next time.

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