Oh deer, I found a baby animal. What should I do?
Countless times, I’ve witnessed hunters being ridiculed by anti-hunters on social media for their fascination with fawns and other baby animals. Hunters share pictures of fawns caught on game cameras or holding fawns found in the woods. Regardless of the intent behind the picture, anti-hunters tend to jump to the same conclusion with these hateful comments:
“Are you going to kill it later?”
“You’re a murderer. Leave that baby alone.”
Sadly, anti-hunters don’t realize that hunters are truly some of the most compassionate people; they understand the importance of conservation. Also, I think it’s time to clear up a little confusion on whether or not it’s safe to take hold a fawn found in the wild.
Hayden Burns, a wildlife caregiver at East Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc., provides excellent information that sheds a great deal of light on the doe and fawn relationship:
“Whitetail deer leave their babies bedded down for up to eight hours during the first three weeks of the fawn’s life while the doe is foraging because the fawn is unable to keep up with the doe and not fast enough to escape predators,” Burns said.
“Fawns have no scent during this time frame, preventing predators from finding them; therefore, the doe spends very little time with the fawn as she does not want her scent to give away the babies location,” Burns continued.
So, the question remains. Is it safe to pick up the fawn? Will the mother abandoned the fawn if she smells a human scent on her baby? Let’s see.
“We do not recommend picking up a fawn if it’s found bedded down in the woods simply because fawns are very impressionable at this age and are best left undisturbed. However, it is a myth that a mother will reject her baby after being touched by a human,” Burns said.
Luckily, I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside East Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc., and I’ve been blessed to have this opportunity. Today, I want to share the steps of what to do if you find a baby animal that you believe is in need of assistance.
STEP 1: Secure the Animal
If you have gloves, please put the gloves on. Then, place the animal in a cardboard box punctured with small holes. Be sure to place the box in a dark, quiet, and warm location. If you’re uncomfortable touching the animal, just keep an eye on it, which leads me to step two.
STEP 2: Contact a Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitation Specialist
Once the animal is secure, contact a licensed wildlife rehabber immediately. To locate a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in your area, contact your local Game and Parks Commission Conservation Officer or Local Game and Fish Office.
Things to Remember:
You can’t keep the baby animal as a pet (Even if it’s tempting)
In many states, it’s illegal to obtain a wild animal without a permit. Wild animals can carry diseases that are transferable to humans and domestics pets; therefore, it’s not smart to bring them in your household. Be sure to protect yourself and the animal.
Just like puppies or kittens, those cute, wild baby animals grow up
Wild animals do not make good pets; they often become destructive and aggressive as adults.
Don’t be selfish
Remember that a wild animal raised in a human environment will most likely never be able to survive in the wild if returned.
Sponsor an Animal
At East Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc., Sponsor A Critter Program, there are several baby animals available for sponsorship now—Eastern Grey Squirrel, Raccoons, and Whitetail. For as little as $35, you can sponsor a single small animal such as the squirrel, and for $55, you can sponsor a single large animal such as Whitetail Deer or Raccoon.
Why Should I Become a Sponsor?
By sponsoring an animal, you help East Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc., provide food, bedding, medication, veterinary care, supplies, and the highest standards of animal care for your sponsored animal.
What Do I Receive as a Sponsor?
Sponsors receive a sponsor certificate and be recognized on East Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation’s Facebook page and website. Sponsors also receive a 5X6 photo of the animal and a rehabilitation progress report every two weeks by email during the baby animals stay.
I’m so excited to be sponsoring two animals at East Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc. Here are my two baby animals, a Whitetail buck and Eastern Grey Squirrel.
Here’s their story:
My Whitetail buck is named “Little.” Little was admitted at East Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation on July 18th after being found by a Labrador retriever. Luckily for Little, this particular Lab is a trained duck hunting dog, so he knew to carry the baby softly in his mouth as if he was carrying a duck.
Little came without a single puncture wound which is so very rare for a fawn caught by dog. He simply suffered from being scared into shock. He has since made a full recovery and is doing extremely well! He is accompanied by eight other fawns within two weeks of age. These babies will be ready for release in November but will stay together as a family group throughout the winter.
My Eastern Grey Squirrel is named “Chip.” Chip was admitted at East Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation after falling from his nest and suffering from bruising to his left side. The bruising was not life threatening; however, it caused him to become so sore he often squealed causing the mother to reject him.
Since being admitted he has begun recovering and we expect the bruising to be completely healed within the next week! This baby squirrel is part of the second round of baby squirrels and will stay with them through the winter. Release dates depend highly upon weather and cannot be scheduled exact until two weeks prior to release, but it will be in the month of March.
For more information on East Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc., please contact Hayden Burns at 601-917-4788 or visit http://www.eastmswildliferehab.org.