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DNR Central Office –

MADISON – State wildlife officials remind outdoor enthusiasts the best way to enjoy Wisconsin's whitetail fawns being born now through early July is from afar because their mother is nearby even though you don't see her.

Fawns are often left alone by their mothers for long periods of time.
Fawns are often left alone by their mothers for long periods of time.
Photo Credit: Carissa Freeh

Dianne Robinson, Department of Natural Resources wildlife expert who chairs the Keep Wildlife Wild program, says spring is when well-meaning people discover fawns alone, mistakenly believe they are in trouble and take unneeded action that may harm the animal. A fawn's best chance for survival is with its mother.

“Wild deer moms care for and protect their young differently than human mothers,” Robinson said of the state's official wild animal. “It is normal for wild deer mothers to leave their fawns unattended for long periods of time. Keeping fawns hidden and alone is actually an adaptation to protect them from predators.”

Robinson says her best advice to spring callers concerned about fawns is simple: “Leave it where it is. Do not touch the fawn as scent is one of its natural protectors.”

Is it hard to know if a deer fawn is truly in need of help?

“Absolutely,” Robinson said. “And we do understand people want to help and that's a wonderful sentiment. However, to really help, don't touch the animal and call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator if you are truly concerned for its welfare. Remember, a fawn's best chance for survival is with its mother.”

If you find a fawn and are concerned about its safety, visit the DNR's Keep Wildlife Wild webpage on the DNR's website, dnr.wi.gov, by searching keyword Keep Wildlife Wild, or visit this factsheet specific to fawns [PDF].

If the fawn is injured or known to be orphaned, contact your local wildlife rehabilitator by visiting the DNR's website, dnr.wi.gov, and searching keyword rehab. If you require additional assistance, contact the DNR Call Center at 1-888-936-7463.

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