FORT RUCKER, Ala. (March 5, 2015) -- The wooden carrying crate opened quickly, but the whitetail deer inside took its time before creeping into the small clearing nestled closely to a wooded Fort Rucker habitat it will now call home.The first of many planned releases of whitetail deer on Fort Rucker took place March 2 and everyone involved feels it is a win-win situation."[Big Ben Wildlife Sanctuary] were looking for a place to release the deer where they would be relatively protected during their first year," Daniel Spillers, fish and wildlife biologist with the Fort Rucker Directorate of Public Works Environmental Resources Branch, said. "We were receptive to it because our deer population is lower than we'd like to see it."Our fawn recruitment has been low due to the heavy coyote predation on the herd," he added. "We've been trying to do something about that. We've limited the hunting season on the deer and restricted antlerless hunting. We've also been trapping coyotes in an effort to reduce predation. But these releases will help us strengthen the heard on post."A study was previously conducted to identify the impact of coyote predation on the deer population."We did a study with Auburn University a few years ago and found we had 80 percent fawn mortality," Spillers said. "The majority of that is due to coyote predation. We are building our herd back. We think the steps we've taken are working."John Morse, vice president, and Terry Morse, director and rehabilitator, of Big Bend Wildlife Sanctuary in Enterprise, have spent months preparing more than a dozen fawn, who hail from different parts of the country, for the upcoming releases."When they're growing, they are part of a family," John said. "We, in turn, become their family, similar to trying to raise your kids. That is what we have to do. We have to teach them and we have to also let them learn on their own. We have to show them it is OK to play and it is OK to be a youngster. As they wean, we have to push away from them. We have to teach them how to forage and how to get up on their hind legs to reach the top branches of trees. Mom and dad would show them these things in the wild."But fawns require special care as they grow older and reduced human interaction as the time for release approaches, Terry added."We minimize their interaction with humans once they move to the outside holding pen," she said. "The only time they see us is when we feed them."They have already learned how to forage on their own," she added. "We let the pen grow wild. Two months after we put them out there, they have everything stripped. So we have to bring in more food sources like tree branches with leaves."According to John, most of the fawns were brought to the sanctuary because their mother was struck by a vehicle on the roadway and they became orphans."Our mission is to rehabilitate injured and orphaned wildlife," Terry said. "We recondition them for release back into the wild. We give them a second chance."Each of the deer released by BBWS will be tagged for tracking and additional protection as they journey toward adulthood. According to Spillers, the fawns will be released into a secluded area of Fort Rucker with restricted hunting to provide a better opportunity for them to mature and impact the herd."These tagged deer will be protected," he said. "We are actually releasing them in an area on Fort Rucker with very limited hunting. Most of Fort Rucker is open to hunting, but this particular area is only open for a short window."