I was walking in the woods and I found an abandoned deer fawn so I “rescued” it. Although, it is entirely possible that the mother died or abandoned it, that is most likely not the case. The mother hides the fawn for the first few weeks of the fawn’s life to protect it from danger while she feeds and sleeps; however, she usually stays fairly close to the fawn. You probably will not see her but she will see you. The mother returns at dusk to feed her baby. All too often we hear that the “rescuer” thought that there was something wrong with the fawn because it did not move and they proceeded to “rescue” it. Fawns instinctively remain still when danger is near, and humans represent danger. If you believe the fawn has been abandoned, watch from a safe distance to see if the mother returns. We cannot stress enough the importance of watching from a distance. The mother will not return if she sees a human. Humans represent danger in her eyes.
If the mother does not return after dusk, the fawn will need to be taken to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Again, we must reiterate all observations must be done from a distance. Deer fawns are absolutely adorable, however please do not think that you are up for the task of raising it. Deer fawns imprint on humans very quickly and cannot be kept as pets. An animal that is imprinted to humans will have great difficulty surviving in the wild where it truly belongs. An imprinted animal has lost its natural fear of humans and may go so far as to approach a human. This makes the animal an easy target during hunting season.
A fawn whose mother is found dead, has been hit by a car, attacked by another animal, or appears sick (dull and sunken eyes) should be taken to a wildlife veterinarian or licensed wildlife rehabilitator as quickly as possible.
Occasionally, a deer fawn will appear in someone’s back yard either with or without its mother. To further complicate matters, sometimes the area is fenced in. If this happens, please remove your pets (especially dogs) from the area immediately until the fawn has been successfully relocated. Dogs are predators and will attack the trapped fawn, especially when the fawn runs because this will trigger a predator-prey response in the dog. We, as humans, must also avoid chasing the fawn. Once again, deer view humans as predators and can injure themselves severely while trying to escape from us. The mother is most likely watching and waiting for us to leave the area. If there is an opening in the fence such as a gate, open it and leave the area. Another option is to cut the fence or remove a section of the fence to allow the animal to exit safely. Watch from a safe distance to see if the mother retrieves the fawn or the fawn leaves on its own accord. If the fawn is injured, unable to leave, or the mother does not come back for it, please contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in your area for assistance.