Conservation officers are reminding people to leave baby deer and other wild animals alone — do not move them. Unauthorized people who do move fawns may be fined by the Conservation Officer Service.
“Every year, well-intentioned people try to ‘rescue’ fawns and other young ungulates mistakenly thought to be orphaned, but these interventions do more harm than good,” Kelowna conservation officer Ken Owens said.
He said mother deer, elk and other species may leave their young alone for long periods of time in order to avoid attracting predators. A mother may only return a few times a day to nurse.
“When she does return, she can be expected to defend her baby from real or perceived threats, including nearby humans and their pets,” Owens said.
Owens said it’s typical for young ungulates to lie quietly in vegetation for hours at a time, especially in the first two weeks of their lives when they’re not strong enough to follow their mothers.
“Fawns are as small as a cat when born, and their camouflage and lack of scent hide them from potential predators. Although these babies may look abandoned, they are not. However, if humans remove them from their rest spots, they can end up being orphaned,” Owens said.
A mother deer will be aware of your presence and is likely watching you, Owens said. Just by being close to the fawn could discourage the mother deer from returning.
In Grand Forks, the issue is particularly acute because of the high deer population. The local conservation officer said that in town, deer already have to contend with cars, roads, fences and dogs. When fawns get separated unnecessarily then, it takes much longer to get it back to its mother.
Last year in B.C., several people were charged after picking up a live fawn and carrying it around for several hours. The Conservation Officer Service said that fines start at $345 now, with the charge being “unlawful possession of live wildlife.”
If you think a fawn is not being cared for by its mother, return the next day to check on it. If it is in the exact same spot and bleating, it may be orphaned.
Contact the Conservation Officer Service by calling 1-877-952-7277 if you believe a fawn is orphaned or injured.