LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – Spring is the season when many species of wildlife have newborns, and many concerned Arkansans call in to report young wildlife that looks like it has been abandoned. A well-meaning person can actually cause more harm than good by moving these animals to try to care for them.
According to Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Deer Program Coordinator Cory Gray, many animals, especially deer, try to hide their young while they search out food for their young or gain much-needed nutrition to continue nursing them.
“We get quite a few calls about people thinking fawns have been abandoned by their mothers,” Gray said. “Early in life, fawns lay very still so as not to attract predators, and are frequently mistaken for being in distress or abandoned.”
Gray explained that the mother is likely within hearing distance, and by moving the fawn in an attempt to “rescue” it, a well-meaning person may actually cause the animal to become abandoned.
“It’s also illegal to possess a fawn in Arkansas unless you are a licensed rehabilitator,” Gray said. “Wildlife are just that, wild.”
The AGFC passed a law in 2012, making it illegal to catch a fawn white-tailed deer to keep as a pet. If you think a fawn is in immediate danger by lying in or very near a road or in the path of haying equipment, pick it up and move it over a few feet. Never remove it from the immediate area. The mother will periodically check on her young. The longer a mother doe spends directly with her young, the more likely she is to attract predators to the area through her scent and movements.
“That deer has a much better chance of surviving if you simply walk away and let its mother tend to it like it knows how to do,” Gray said. “And seeing a doe that died from a car collision nearby doesn’t necessarily mean the fawn’s mother was killed.”