It’s hard to turn around and walk away when a defenceless baby animal appears to be in trouble, but that’s what Sylvia Campbell at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre wants people to do when they come across a seemingly abandoned fawn.
Campbell said the centre has received calls — at least two dozen in the past two weeks — from people who say they have found an abandoned fawn and want to it to be rescued.
While she said she appreciates people’s kind-heartedness, Campbell stressed that first, the fawn is likely not abandoned at all and second, that moving the animal is probably one of the worst things you can do.
“Some people think we are being mean when we tell them to leave them there and some get very upset with us and don’t understand why we won’t take them,” she said. “We won’t take them because they are not abandoned. The does leave them for long periods of time while they go and eat. The fawns don’t have any defence, so this is one adaptation they have.”
The mother deer, she added, leaves them alone, where they lie entirely still so if there is a cougar or predator of any kind, the fawn will be hidden and the predator would go after the mother, not the fawn.
If people find a fawn on their property or on the side of the road, they should just leave it, she said, and the mother will come back for it when she’s ready to do so.
“If it’s on the side of the road where it is in danger of being hit, they can pick it up and move it deeper into the woods or the ditch where mother will be reunited with it,” Campbell said. “You can move them, but please, don’t bring them to us.”
Campbell noted one family returning from Bamfield found a fawn and drove it home to Oceanside, later phoning the centre, only to be told they had to return the animal to where they found it — a long, tiring and inconvenient ride.
Campbell did stress that dogs and other domesticated animals should be kept away from the fawns and they people should never feed the fawns.
“That is certain death if they feed them other than what they need to be fed,” she said. “I should also mention it’s illegal to keep them, so if people take them home and raise them up, they can be charged.”