As people continue practicing social distancing (and in some instances isolation), some of nature’s species have been sighted doing the same – but for vastly different reasons.
Late spring and early summer are peak fawning times for white-tailed deer, so the number of sightings on Fort Gordon have increased dramatically and resulted in numerous phone calls from concerned citizens during recent weeks.
Although baby deer (fawns) are too young to care for themselves, u
nlike humans, it is not uncommon for them to be left alone for short periods of time.
Zach Blunk, wildlife biologist with Fort Gordon Natural Resources Branch, said it is “highly unlikely” that the baby deer have been abandoned. Sometimes a doe will leave her fawn alone to feed nearby.
“They will leave their fawns in or near brush piles, in tall grasses, and even in more open areas from time to time where they believe their young to be safe/protected from immediate danger,” Blunk said. “We recently found one on the little league baseball field, we assume because the location was fenced in with only a couple access points.”
Blunk went on to say the separation is a survival-related behavior intended to minimize predation of their fawn. Once the doe is finished feeding, she retrieves her young before moving along. As fawns mature, they develop the ability to run away from their predators.
Under no circumstances should a person approach or attempt to rescue a fawn.
“Odds are it was left there intentionally. White-tailed deer are highly sensitive to scent, so if a fawn has been handled by a human the Doe with abandon the fawn,” Blunk said.
Furthermore, feeding is also off the table – not only for deer, but for wildlife in general. Feeding wildlife can cause them to depend on humans and lead them out to more human populated areas, exposing them (and humans) to greater risks. It can also attract unwanted predator and “nuisance” species.
“With that being said, deer and other wildlife are part of the landscape of Fort Gordon,” Blunk explained. “Increased development of previously wooded tracts of land will innately increase interactions between humans and wildlife.”
If a fawn is seen injured or in close proximity to an injured doe, the witness should contact Fort Gordon’s Natural Resources Branch at 706-791-2397/6135 between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Friday. If it’s outside of those hours, contact the Law Enforcement Center at 706-791-4380.