Late spring and early summer is the peak time for California’s deer herds to give birth to fawns, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is reminding the public to not interact with the baby deer, even if they appear to be abandoned.
Adult female deer often stash their fawns in tall grass or brush for many hours while they are out foraging for food.
CDFW’s Northern Region Environmental Program Manager Joe Croteau said it is a common mistake for people to believe a fawn has been abandoned when it’s found alone, even if the mother has not been seen in the area for a long period of time.
“It’s actually a survival strategy for the doe to separate from her fawns so as not to attract predators to the whereabouts of her young,” Croteau said in a press release.
The CDFW and other wildlife rehabilitation facilities are often called to assist with fawns that have been removed by concerned members of the public, but with limited long-term placement options in zoos and other wildlife sanctuaries the animals often have to be euthanized since they lack the survival skills to be released back into the wild and can become dangerous and difficult to keep as the grow.
Those looking to report an injured, sick or suspected orphaned fawn are asked to contact their local CDFW regional office. Anyone who removes a young animal from the wild is required to notify CDFW or take the animal to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator within 48 hours.
It is both illegal to feed deer and keep deep in one’s personal possession. Both crimes are misdemeanors, each subject to penalties of up to $1,000 and/or six months in jail.