Cottagers sometimes come across what looks like a baby deer left all alone. Hope Swinimer, a wildlife rehabilitator who runs Hope for Wildlife, offers this guidance for people who are wondering if the deer needs help:
- First of all, know that it is normal for mother deer to leave their fawns alone for long periods of time.
- Baby deer don’t have any odour, but the mothers do. The doe minimizes her contact with the baby so that it can stay undetected and safe. Usually a mother will come to feed her fawn and then will leave and doesn’t come back until it’s feeding time again.
- People often run across a deer sitting quietly underneath a bush or alone in a field, with its head up and alert, and not crying or shivering. This is normal behaviour, and the fawn is doing exactly what it should be doing. A fawn in this condition doesn’t need to be helped.
So, how can you tell if the fawn has been orphaned?
- If there was an adult deer hit by a car recently, that’s a good reason to keep an eye on nearby fawns more closely.
- To monitor whether a fawn is being attended, you can sprinkle flour all around the fawn. Then you’ll be able to look for the mother’s footprints to see whether she has been coming in and out for feedings at dawn and dusk. Similarly, you can lay a string on the ground around the fawn, and look to see whether the mother has disturbed it when coming and going.
- Lastly, be aware of the fawn’s behaviour. If it is crying and shivering, that could indicate the fawn is in distress, in which case you should contact your local wildlife rehabilitation organization. But if the deer is sitting quietly and comfortably it is likely perfectly fine.
Don’t miss Hope Swinimer on the Main Stage at The Ottawa Cottage Life & Backyard Show. Hope will presenting at the show on Friday, April 12 at 1pm, Saturday, April 13 at 11am, and Sunday, April 14 at 12pm. The Canadian wildlife rehabilitator and star of Cottage Life’s long-running series Hope for Wildlife will take the stage with Cottage Life magazine’s Deputy Editor, Liann Bobechko to discuss helpful facts and tips every cottager should know about wildlife in cottage country.
And tune-in to a new season of Hope For Wildlife, Fridays at 10et/7pt on Cottage Life TV—now in free preview.