SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is informing the public on how to stay safe ahead of “baby animal season,” according to a press release.

“As you are out hiking and camping this summer, don’t be surprised if you come across a deer fawn or an elk calf during late May or June,” the release states.

DWR says that if you do see one, do not touch, try to feed, or take the baby animal home. Doing so can reportedly have fatal consequences for the animal and could also result in injury to you.

Deer and elk calves are often born in June, DWR states, and this is why you may encounter one during your early summer outing.

If you do see one, you “probably won’t see its mother,” leading you to believe that the animal has been abandoned. This, however, is rarely the case, DWR states.

“Newborn fawns are actually frequently alone and isolated during their first weeks of life — and that’s on purpose,” Utah DWR Big Game Coordinator Dax Mangus said. “The mother knows that leaving the fawn alone is the best way to protect it from predators.”

Newborn big game animals reportedly are either followers and hiders. Followers include animals like bison calves and bighorn sheep lambs, and follow their mothers shortly after being born, DWR states.

Hiders, including mule deer fawns and elk calves, do the opposite. DWR says that for the first two to three weeks of their lives, they hide alone for most of the day.

“During the day, a doe deer will reunite with its fawn for a short time, to nurse it and care for it. Then, to draw attention away from where the fawn is hiding, the mother will leave the fawn,” DWR states.

The doe will reportedly then spend the rest of the day feeding and resting.

“Hiding is the best way for fawns to stay safe right after they are born. Then, after two or three weeks, the fawn grows strong enough to start accompanying its mother,” DWR states.

Fawns are born with a creamy brown coat that’s covered with white spots, a release states. This allows them to blend in with their surroundings. DWR also says that fawns don’t give off much scent, making it hard for predators to smell them.

Here are the key points to keep a baby animal safe, according to DWR:

  • 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 young animal has not been abandoned by its mother.”
  • Don’t touch it or pet it. “Finding and petting newly born animals is a 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 or calf, getting too close can cause it to run away from you, resulting in the animal using energy it needs to survive.”
  • Never attempt to remove a fawn or calf from the wild or take it home. “DWR conservation officers occasionally respond to instances where an individual has taken a baby deer or elk home to “care for it.” However, that often has fatal consequences for the animal and can also create public safety risks as the animal matures. It is illegal to keep wildlife in captivity and can result in a class A misdemeanor.”

Lastly, if you believe that a baby animal is injured or sick, report it to the nearest DWR office. For more tips about how to safely live with wildlife, visit the Wild Aware Utah website.