Following are the hyperlinked headline and an excerpt from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ (VDGIF) May 1, 2015, news release on what they recommend for citizen who find young deer or other wildlife. Other news releases from VDGIF are available online at http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/news/.
If You Find a Fawn, Leave it Alone, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries News Release, 5/1/15.
It’s that time of year again when white-tailed deer fawns are showing up in yards and hayfields, and concerned citizens want to know how to help. In almost all cases, the best way to help is to simply give the fawn space and leave it alone. Concerned people sometimes pick up animals that they think are orphaned.
… Most wild animals will not abandon their young, but they do leave them alone for long periods of time while looking for food. Fawns, born from April through July, are purposely left alone by their mothers. Female deer, called does, stay away from the fawns to avoid leading predators such as dogs or coyotes to their location. The white-spotted coat camouflages a fawn as it lies motionless in vegetation. Does will return several times each day to move and/or feed their young. You probably will not see the doe at all since she only stays to feed the fawn for just a very few minutes before leaving it alone again. If less than 24 hours have passed since a fawn has been “rescued,” the fawn should be taken back and released at the exact same location where it was found. If a wild animal has been injured or truly orphaned, do not take matters into your own hands. You may locate a licensed wildlife rehabilitator by calling the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ (VDGIF) toll-free wildlife conflict helpline at 1-855-571-9003, 8:00AM-4:30PM, Monday through Friday or visit the VDGIF website at: http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/problems/.
Raising a wild animal in captivity is illegal unless you have a state permit, which is available only to zoos and wildlife rehabilitators. Each animal’s nutritional, housing, and handling requirements are very specific and must be met if they have any chance of survival.
…Wildlife managers have additional concerns about fawn rehabilitation. The process requires deer to be moved, treated (often in contact with other deer), and then released back into the wild. Often, rehabilitated deer must be released into areas with already high deer populations. Movement and commingling of deer increase the risks that contagious diseases, such as tuberculosis or chronic wasting disease (CWD), will be introduced into Virginia’s wild deer population. In fact, detections of CWD in Frederick and Shenandoah Counties have prompted the prohibition of deer rehabilitation in Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren Counties. See: http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/diseases/cwd/.
The best advice for someone who wants to help wildlife is to keep it wild. …More information [on deer] can be obtained on the agency’s website: http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/deer/.
More information on dealing with found wildlife generally is available from the DGIF’s “Injured and Orphaned Wildlife” page, online at http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/injured/.