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Jun-19-2014 07:33printcomments

Oregonians Urged to Leave Young Deer Alone

These acts of kindness do more harm than good.

Oregon Deer
It is not unusual to see a fawn by itself in the wild this time of year but it does not necessarily mean the animal is in trouble. Its mother may be close by foraging for food or keeping a safe distance from humans. ODFW biologists say it’s almost never a good idea to take a young animal out of the wild, plus it’s illegal. Photo Kevin Hays

(SALEM, Ore. ) - The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says in just the past two weeks, wildlife biologists have reported several instances of people taking young deer fawns out of the wild.

ODFW says a well-meaning person finds a young deer fawn alone in the wild, assumes it is lost, orphaned or hurt, and takes it home with them to nurse it back to health. Not only is this a bad idea, it’s against the law.

These acts of kindness do more harm than good. People are often mistaken when they believe something is wrong because a young animal is alone. The young animal’s mother is probably close by, maintaining what she sees as a safe distance between herself and humans or foraging for food.

“This is often at the critical stage of the animal’s development when it should be learning how to act like a wild animal and feed itself,” cautions Dr. Julia D. Burco, ODFW veterinarian.

“This becomes quite problematic because often these animals may not have truly been orphaned and once they become imprinted or habituated to people it is much harder to get them to relearn species-specific survival skills.”

Rather than handle the animal, ODFW encourages people who find wildlife they believe is sick, orphaned or injured and in need of help to note the animal’s condition and location and call your local ODFW wildlife biologist or the Oregon State Police.

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