FORT SILL, Oklahoma (June 1 2022) — Fort Sill Fish and Wildlife Services warns everyone to keep their hands off the fawns.
With spring in full swing, don’t be surprised if you see a deer fawn or two, seemingly all alone. If you do happen to see one in the wild, you probably won't see its mother and not seeing its mother might lead you to believe that the animal has been abandoned. But that's rarely the case, said Mark Conklin, supervisor of Fort Sill Fish and Wildlife Services.
"Deer fawns are actually alone and isolated during their first weeks of life — and that's for a reason," said Conklin. "The mother knows that leaving the fawn alone is the best way to protect it from predators."
While this may seem like an odd way for a doe to treat a fawn, Conklin said it’s the best way to protect the baby animal. Fawns are born with little scent and rusty-red hair with white spots for camouflage, he said. These features help fawns survive until they’re fast and strong enough to flee predators and keep up with their mothers.
During the day, a doe will return to its fawn briefly, to nurse it and care for it. Then, to draw predators away from where the fawn is hiding, the mother will leave the fawn. The doe will spend the rest of the day feeding and resting. Baby fawns found on the ground should not be picked up, because doing so could cause great stress on both the mother and doe, said Conklin.
“This may seem like the perfect opportunity to pick the fawn up and take it home to try and keep it safe, but this is not the case,” said Conklin. “The fawns are taught from birth to just lay down and stay still. If you come up to a fawn it won't even blink an eye.
When the mother drops off her baby, she is trying to lead other predators away from it by carrying her scent far away from the fawn. When it is safe, she will come back and get the fawn.
“You'd be surprised some of the places we find (fawns),” said Conklin. “We’ll find them under cedar trees right by Cowan Dental Clinic, up by (on Randolph Road) and right in the backyard of Taylor Hall.”
If a fawn is seen and believed to be in danger, rather than picking up the fawn, you should contact Fort Sill Fish and Wildlife Services instead of literally, taking matters into your own hands. If the fawn needs to be relocated those officials will make sure it is safely moved. Unlike stray dogs or cats, taking matters into your own hands can cause many issues for both the fawn and the mother.
“We’re trained to handle this. We’ve got the equipment and education to move these animals if needed,” said Conklin. “Too many times, people think they’re helping by picking up the fawn and then calling us, but what they’re really doing is stressing that fawn out, and you're decreasing the ability of that fawn to live.”
For services call — Sportsman Services Center at (580)442-3553 or Game Warden at (580) 442-3364.