SHOULD YOU PICK UP THAT FAWN?
Every spring, it’s the same thing. Some random person on social media shows up on my timeline holding a fawn. Posing their kids with it. Bringing it home and letting it play with the dogs. Every year, at least once. I’m sick of it.
STOP PICKING UP FAWNS.
Was that clear, or should I say it again?
Since this seems to be so difficult to grasp, let’s go over, for what should be 1,000th time, why you shouldn’t pick up fawns, or any other young wildlife for that matter.
First, wild animals abandoning their young is far rarer than people abandoning their own children. Their instincts are better than ours. They know what they’re supposed to do, and every decision they make is for the survival of the species.
You found a fawn and you say mom isn’t around. Do you know why? BECAUSE SHE DOESN’T WANT TO BE SEEN. I can’t fathom the number of hunters who decide every spring to act like you can just walk up to deer the rest of the year, so why wouldn’t she hangout by her fawn and let you walk right up like a Disney movie. Mom is close. She can see you if you can’t see here, and she will come back.
Don’t pick up that fawn. Don’t touch that fawn. Keep walking. Mom will come back when danger, (you, that’s you, you’re the danger) passes.
Second, if you’re as skilled an outdoorsperson as you are going to pretend your fawn find makes you, you’d know that fawns are born virtually scent-free. Since most predators use their sense of smell to find food, a fawn, being scent-free, is difficult to find unless they trip over it. That’s why does feel comfortable leaving their fawns for short periods of time when danger approaches. The chance of being found is small.
Do you know what changes those chances? You, genius. You decided you wanted to take your family photo shoot today with this cute little spotted prop. Now you have it smelling like bacon grease, cigarettes, and sadness. Know what just got really easy for a coyote to find? That fawn that was perfectly scent-free two hours ago.
Good job, sparky. You got some cool photos. The fawn is dismembered in a coyote den somewhere, but hey, it got 300 likes on Instagram, so all in all it worked out pretty well.
The last reason, less important than the first two, is that there can be danger for you as well. A fawn can carry diseases, which you could transmit by handling it. It may also strike or kick at being messed with, which one could argue is what you should get for messing with a fawn, but all the same it’s a good reason to not pick them up.
Here’s a handy checklist for when it might be acceptable to pick up a fawn.
- Did you see the doe that you are 100% certain is this fawn’s mother, die?
- Are you, in your state, properly licensed as a wildlife rehabilitator?
If, and only if, you can answer yes to both of these questions, then you can pick up that fawn.
Otherwise, keep a safe distance so you don’t leave your own scent close enough to the fawn to be found, leave the area quickly so its mother can return to collect the fawn, and enjoy the fact that you were able to see a wild fawn, without doing anything that can put the life of the fawn in danger.