Michigan DNR Says Leave Seemingly Abandoned Fawns Alone, Mother Isn’t Far Away


Presently, deer fawns are being born all over Michigan. The Department of Natural Resources reminds Michigan residents to resist the instinct to try to “help” seemingly abandoned fawns, because this can be more harmful than helpful to the fawn. Many fawns are found curled up alone in fields or forest floors – this is normal.

“The truth is, even if a fawn appears to be abandoned, its mother is almost always nearby,” said DNR wildlife biologist Bruce Barlow. “We appreciate the good intentions of those who want to help, but a fawn is much better off left alone in the wild.”

Barlow said it’s not uncommon for a mother to leave her young unattended for up to eight hours at a time. The mother will only visit the fawn for short periods, in order to minimize the odor left behind. Newborn fawns do not have a strong odor, and they lay still most of the time, making predators less likely to locate them. As a result of this behavior, which is a survival mechanism, many people think the fawn has been abandoned because they do not see the mother with the fawn for hours.

The DNR advises that:

  • Fawns may die if removed from their natural environment.
  • “Rescued” fawns that do survive frequently become habituated to people and are unable to revert back to life in the wild.
  • It is illegal to possess a wild deer in Michigan, and every day a deer spends with humans makes it that much less likely to be able to survive in the wild.

Eventually, habituated animals pose additional problems as they mature and develop adult animal behaviors. Habituated deer, especially bucks, can become aggressive toward people as they mature.

Barlow advises that if you see a fawn alone, do not approach, move or touch it. “Instead, enjoy the moment and leave it be for all to see!”

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