Abandoned Baby Deer

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Each year, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries receives dozens of calls from concerned citizens who have found "abandoned" baby deer. With the best of intentions, these concerned citizens pick up the baby deer and take them home. They then call LDWF to retrieve them.

It is illegal to pick up baby deer or any other wild animal. By doing so, well meaning individuals are subject to citation and fine. Taking fawns out of their natural habitat seriously diminishes their chance to live a normal and healthy life.

When a baby deer is born, it is weak and awkward and unable to move well enough to feed and escape predators. Nature has equipped deer with built in defense mechanisms. Newborn fawns have a coat of light brown hair, liberally covered with white spots. The coloration provides excellent camouflage against predators. The mother doe will come by several times a day to feed it. When a young deer gets older and stronger, it is usually able to keep up with its mother. Until then, its best defense is to lay motionless in a thicket or grassy field.

During this vulnerable hiding mode in the summer, well meaning citizens discover fawns with no mother deer and falsely assume the baby deer has been abandoned. The mother deer is almost always nearby anxiously awaiting human departure.

Fawns brought to LDWF biologists, technologists or enforcement agents do not have much of a chance to live a normal life. The baby deer must be hand reared by a licensed wildlife rehabilitator at considerable cost of time and expense. Initial mortality is high. Fawns raised on the bottle in captivity do not have the opportunity to learn skills and lessons necessary to survive in the wild and will quickly succumb to accidents or predation. So, deer which do survive the raising process must be confined to a pen the remainder of their lives.

Citizens encountering baby deer in the wild should leave them untouched and quietly depart the area. This will give the deer its best chance to live a normal life and prevent possible legal prosecution.