(Photo by Britt Swoveland)

Now that it’s almost Summer, Victorians are starting to spot baby deer, or fawns, taking their very first steps all over town.

Whether they’re in your own back yard or in a park somewhere, these adorable creatures are often seen wandering around by themselves, leading many people to assume that they are orphaned or in distress.

It can be tempting to go pet the fawn or offer it comfort, but this is unadvisable even if the animal is actually injured or in danger.

Why?

According to a study by Pennsylvania State University, fawns typically only nurse 2-3 times a day during the first few weeks of their life.

When they’re not nursing, they choose their own bedding away from their mom, and move around several times a day all by themselves! But the doe is always about 90 metres away from them – even if you can’t always see her.

Fawns also take several days to imprint on their mom, which means that before they do, there’s a chance they could imprint on other large moving objects. This includes human beings.

Furthermore, touching a fawn means leaving our human scent all over it. This makes them much more easily detectable to predators in the area, since fawns naturally have little to no scent.

What to do if a fawn is injured/in danger

If you suspect that a fawn is orphaned, Animal Control Services recommends that you “observe from a distance for 12 to 18 hours” to see whether or not the mom returns. If she still hasn’t returned, call the BC SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (WildARC) at 250-478-9453.

Other reasons to call WildARC for a baby deer include if:

  • it seems frantic, is wandering and bleating consistently, or approaching people
  • it is obviously injured
  • it has been fed anything by anyone
  • it is located in a dangerous or high-traffic area

It is also important to note that in many parts of Greater Victoria, it is illegal to leave food out for wild animals including deer, raccoons, rabbits, etc.

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