Fawning season is here, and the Fairfax County Animal Protection Police and wildlife-management specialist have begun receiving many calls about white-tailed deer fawns on residential property.
White-tailed deer fawns are born April through July, with most fawns born in May and June. Newborn fawns often are found on lawns, in flower beds, gardens, bushes or areas of tall grass near homes.
It is common for people to encounter white-tailed deer fawns motionless and without their mother, then mistakenly assume it is orphaned or abandoned. In almost all cases, fawns only temporarily are left by their mothers for protection and just need to be left alone, police said.
Female deer, called does, typically leave their fawns bedded down for extended periods of time while they are away foraging, in order to avoid leading predators to their young. If you see a fawn that appears abandoned, leave it alone. The mother may be out of sight but is likely nearby.
Does will return several times each day to move and/or feed their young.
These visits are usually undetected by people because the mother deer only stays to feed the fawn for just a few minutes before leaving it alone again.
The mother deer will be wary of you and human presence could prevent her from returning. Give the fawn space and keep children and pets away to allow the doe to return and care for her fawn.
Young fawns are “hiders” and will not try to run away when they are approached. If you encounter a fawn, do not handle or disturb it; this causes unnecessary stress for the animal. If you have already handled or “rescued” a fawn, and no more than 24 hours have passed, you should return it immediately to the exact place where you found it. Its mother will be looking for it.
You should only seek help for a fawn if it is showing obvious signs of injury or distress, such as wandering and crying incessantly, swollen eyes and signs of trauma such as visible wounds or broken bones, or if there is a dead lactating doe nearby. If an animal is displaying these signs, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, veterinarian or the Animal Protection Police for further assistance and instruction.
Do not feed the fawn or attempt to care for it yourself. Raising a wild animal in captivity is illegal in Virginia unless you have a wildlife-rehabilitation permit issued by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.
A fawn’s best chance of survival is to remain in the wild under the natural care of its mother. Even under the best circumstances and with the best professional care, the survival rate of rehabilitated fawns is low. For these reasons, if you find a fawn on your property, police ask that you help keep the fawn healthy and wild by giving it space and leaving it alone.
If assistance is needed, you may locate a licensed wildlife rehabilitator by calling the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources’ toll-free wildlife-conflict helpline at 1 (855) 571-9003 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or visit the agency’s Website at dwr.virginia.gov/wildlife/injured/rehabilitators/.
Fairfax County Animal Protection Police may be reached via the police department’s non-emergency line at (703) 691-2131. Find more information at https://dwr.virginia.gov/wildlife/injured/deer/.