MOUNTAIN AREA — Even as the summer sun beats down on the trees and grassland, fawns are being born to mule deer in the foothills and higher elevations, and stumbling around sleepy-eyed in their first few weeks of life.
The small, spotted, delicate creatures are vulnerable to predators and, as it turns out, humans are among the species that can be dangerous to newborn deer.
It’s possible for a person out on a local excursion to stumble across a fawn in the woods and think it needs help. It’s less likely that the fawn will actually need that human’s help or intervention.
Wildlife advocates say does generally do not abandon their offspring, but will commonly leave them alone for hours at a time while they go out foraging for food. The fawn will spend most of its time sleeping, especially in the early days and weeks of life.
Sometimes a well-meaning individual will pick up and transport a fawn, believing it to be abandoned. That’s most frequently not the case. The doe will usually be within calling distance from her offspring, and is probably seeing and smelling humans nearby.
If you come across a fawn, say experts, just leave it alone. Do nothing. It’s okay to observe from a distance, so as not to alert the doe, who may delay her return if people are too close.
Do not attempt to feed the animal or give it milk, both potentially harmful options. Should the fawn be in distress due to extreme heat or for some other reason, contact a wildlife rescue group.
A small dish of water may be placed with the fawn while waiting for the rescue group to arrive, if necessary, bringing with them the right kind of knowledge and nutrition to genuinely help the situation.
If needed, the rescue group can take the fawn to a designated wildlife sanctuary and raise it with the intent of releasing it back into the wild some day.
Questions about a fawn or other wildlife in the foothills? Contact Fresno Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation. The phone number is (559) 298-3276 or visit online.