Wildlife Resources Commission Urges People to Leave Fawns Alone
At the peak of fawning season in May and June, people might see fawns left alone and assume they have been abandoned by the doe, but this is usually not the case. Whitetails are a “hider” species, which means the female will hide her fawn in vegetation during the first two or three weeks of its life as she feeds.
Dappled and lacking scent, fawns are well-camouflaged and usually remain undetected by predators. The doe will return to the fawn several times a day to nurse and clean it, staying only a few minutes each time before leaving again to seek food. The doe also will consume the fawn’s excrement to eliminate odor that might attract a predator.
The fawn is also well-equipped to protect itself. By the time a fawn is 5 days old, already it can outrun a human. At 3 to 6 weeks of age, fawns can escape most predators. Typically, fawns are functionally weaned by about 10 weeks and are eating vegetation and other browse, although they may continue to nurse for another 4 to 6 months.
Unless a fawn is in imminent danger — for example, being attacked by dogs or injured in a tractor mowing accident — the best decision always is to leave it alone. If you are concerned about the fawn, leave the area and check on the fawn the next day. Do not remain in the area. Does are very cautious and will not approach a fawn if she senses danger.
If a fawn is in the exact location when you check on it the following day and bleating loudly, or if a fawn is lying beside a dead doe (likely at the side of a highway), do not take the fawn into your possession. Instead, contact the Wildlife Resources Commission at (919) 707-0040 for the telephone number of a local permitted fawn rehabilitator or see a list of fawn rehabilitators at www.ncwildlife.org.
It is illegal to remove a fawn from the wild. Only fawn rehabilitators with a permit from the Commission may keep white-tailed fawns in captivity for eventual release. With the exception of trained wildlife rehabilitators, most people are ill-equipped to care for a fawn, atttempts to “save” one typically do more harm than good.