Home Fawns are making their way into yards and gardens; best to leave them alone

Fawns are making their way into yards and gardens; best to leave them alone

baby fawn under tree
(© Jordan – stock.adobe.com)

White-tailed deer fawns are finding their way into yards, gardens and hayfields, and people are intervening in many cases when the animal should be left alone.

According to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, in almost all cases where people try to help, the animal should simply be given space and left alone.

While people often think the animals are orphaned and try to rescue the young fawns, most are safe even for extended periods of time. Fawns, born from May through July, are purposely left alone by their mothers.

Female deer, called does, often stay away from the fawns to avoid leading predators to their location.

The white-spotted coat camouflages a fawn as it lies motionless in vegetation. Young fawns generally will not try to run away when they are approached.

Does generally return several times each day to move and/or feed their young.

You probably will not see the doe at all since she only stays to feed the fawn for just a few minutes before leaving it alone again.

More information about keeping deer wild in Virginia can be found on the department website.

Wildlife help

  • If a wild animal has been injured or truly orphaned, report the incident by calling the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources wildlife conflict helpline at 1-855-571-9003, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., or find a permitted wildlife rehabilitator through the DWR website.
  • Only permitted wildlife rehabilitators are legally allowed to raise a fawn in captivity. Survival back in the wild is often low for rehabilitated fawns. Lessons during their first year of life, especially from their mother, are critical for a fawn to learn where to find food and avoid predators.
  • In Virginia, fawn rehabilitation is prohibited within designated disease management areas for chronic wasting disease. This restriction is recognized as a best-management practice for limiting the spread of CWD due to animal transport and potential transmission within a captive setting.
  • If less than 24 hours have passed since a fawn has been “rescued,” the fawn should be taken back and released at the exact same location where it was found. After returning the fawn, immediately leave the area and do not wait for the doe to return. The doe will not come back for the fawn if a human is nearby.

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.