DWR warns about coming into contact with baby wildlife

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If you find a fawn in the wild, give it plenty of space. Its mother hid it where you found it. She knows where it is.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is wanting others to know what to do should they run into a deer fawn or elk calf during the early summer months.

For those who like to hike or camp in locations where there might be deer, the DWR says not to be surprised if you come across a baby deer as they are often born in June.

The DWR said not seeing the mother close does not mean the animal has been abandoned.

“Deer fawns are actually alone and isolated during their first weeks of life — and that’s on purpose,” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Big Game Coordinator Covy Jones said. “The mother knows that leaving the fawn alone is the best way to protect it from predators.”

During the day, a doe deer will reunite with its fawn to nurse it and care for it. Then, to draw attention away from where the fawn is hiding, the mother will leave the fawn. The doe will spend the rest of the day feeding and resting. 

Fawns have a creamy brown coat covered with white spots which allows them to blend in with its surroundings, making it difficult for predators to find them. Hiding allows the fawn to stay safe for two or three weeks while it grows strong enough to be with its mother.

The DWR is giving advice on what to do if you see a deer fawn or elk calf who appears to be alone:

  • Don’t approach it. Watch it or take a photo of it from a distance, but don’t go near it. In almost every case, the fawn has not been abandoned by its mother.
  • Don’t touch it or pet it. Finding and petting newly born animals is another problem because the animal’s survival depends on it being left alone. If you touch it, you may leave your scent on the animal, which could draw predators to it. 
  • Give it plenty of space. Even if you don’t touch the fawn, getting too close can cause the fawn to run away from you, leaving its hiding place where its mother left it. Then, when the mother comes back to care for the fawn, it won’t be there.

“Keeping your distance and not touching wildlife are the keys to keeping young animals alive,” Jones said.

For more tips about how to safely live with wildlife, visit the Wild Aware Utah website.

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