***“Animal Help Tips” is offered as a public information source, not a formal instruction manual on how to deal with wild animal situations. The Wildlife Rescue League does not accept responsibility for any outcomes that might result from reading and acting on this material.***
Birthing: 1-3 fawns in May–June
Eyes opened: Birth
Weaning (beg-end): 1–8 months
Active: Daytime or nighttime; year-round
Diet: Fruit trees, grasses, acorns, garden crops
Special information: Deer spend their entire lives in a fairly small area; relocation of deer herds is not an option
Q - The fawn is alone. Does it need help?
A - Fawns are left alone for long periods of time, especially during the day. The mother is nearby and will return every 4-6 hours to nurse, but will not return if there are humans around. The fawn is usually carefully positioned so that its protective coloring camouflages it, and unlike an adult deer it has almost no scent to attract predators. Human intervention could draw predator attention to it. Do not disturb the fawn unless there is evidence that the doe has been killed (dead doe by side of road, fawn nearby). When the fawn is separated from the doe because of some disturbance, the doe will find the fawn through verbal communication. If you are sure the doe has not been there in twelve hours, call the Hotline.
• Make sure the fawn is healthy (e.g. Is the area clean? The fawn appears clean – no flies or bad odor? Is the area around his tail clean, e.g. no sign of diarehea? If no, that means Mom is taking care of him. Otherwise, call the Hotline.
• If the fawn is 2 days in the same place, he’s been abandoned, and should go to a rehabber.
• Is the fawn in a safe place? If not, a rehabber should be called for advice. The fawn may need to be removed.
• Is the fawn up, walking around and crying? Very bad sign. Should go to a rehabilitator right away.
Other reasons to rescue a fawn is if the fawn is exhibiting some sort of unusual behavior (following someone around, begging), has a visible injury, or has closed or swollen eyes (they are born with eyes open). If in doubt, call the Hotline.
Q - I found a fawn, how do I take care of it?
A - Fawns require very specific nutrition, a dedicated and appropriate environment and must be rehabilitated with a group in order to be able to survive. Feeding a fawn, injured or healthy, can cause it to go into shock and kill it, or result in nutritional deficiencies that will eventually cause it to become ill and die. Attempting to raise or care for a single fawn greatly decreases it's chances for rehabilitation and release and can turn even the most well-intentioned act can have terrible consequences for the fawn. Please call our Hotline immediately if you have picked up or found a fawn, or know of anyone that has. Every year, healthy fawns end up being euthanized or die because they were not transferred to a rehabilitator. It is most important to remember two things if you have found a fawn - one, it is against the law to possess wildlife without a permit and two, for the sake of the fawn, the best thing you can do for it is to ensure it's proper care by contacting a rehabilitator.
Q - A deer ran into traffic. Why and what can I do?
A - There are two seasons that most deer-vehicle collisions occur, the first is from September through November, during the mating season, the second is in the spring, March through May. Please pay special attention, drive slowly, watch the shoulders of the road, use your high beams when possible and stay alert! If you see one deer, there are most likely more. If you see a deer in the road, or on the side, use your lights to alert other drivers and your horn to encourage the deer to retreat. If you hit a deer, or witness one being hit, always report it! If a deer has been struck, please call our Hotline to report it and call your local animal control agency.
Q - There is a deer in a median strip. What should I do?
A - If the deer is trapped and/or is causing a traffic hazard, call the police.
Q - There is an injured adult deer (usually broken leg). What should I do?
A - Please call our Hotline for advice. Attempting to catch any deer creates danger for the would-be rescuer and tremendous stress for the animal. If you see any deer that is injured, please call immediately for appropriate information and to ensure the animal will be safely taken care of. If the animal is on the side of the road, please remain on the site, at a safe distance. If you cannot stay, please mark the spot with a white cloth tied to a tree, or some marker so that any responder can find the anilmal quickly. If the animal is on your property, please leave it undisturbed, keep any dogs inside and call our Hotline.
Q - How do I know if deer are eating my plants and what do I do?
A - Deer damage has a rough edge whereas a rabbit cutting has a smooth edge. Fencing should be 8-10 feet tall. Other deterrents include repellents and scare devices. Flower netting or deer netting (which is plastic/nylon) can cause injury to other small animals that may accidentally get caught in it, so this is usually not a preferred deterrant. We can provide a multitude of ways to seter deer from damaging your landscaping without causing harm to either the deer or other wildlife. We will be happy to work with you.
Q - What about controlled deer shoots?
A - The WRL is not involved. If you believe there is a problem of overpopulation or your property is being damaged beause of deer, we strongly encourage you to call our Hotline to learn more about deer, their habitat and ways to mitigate any damage that is occurring. Managed hunts may seem to provide a short-term solution but will typically result in deer repopulating the area and/or create a spike in the fawns born in subsequent years. You may also contact the Fiarfax County Wildlife Biologist.