- If you find an adult deer that is sick or injured call your local game warden with California Fish and Wildlife or animal control.
- Adult deer are very strong animals and can cause severe injury to themselves and those trying to help them.
You should never attempt to raise a baby deer on your own. Most hand-raised deer will die; their mother’s milk is the best for survival and extremely difficult to mimic in captivity. Fawns are easily tamed and therefore are not releasable back into the wild. Cute little fawns grow up to be large deer and can be very dangerous when they are sexually mature.
*Raising a wild mammal in captivity is illegal unless you have a permit issued by the state*
Mother deer leave her babies alone all day and only come back to feed them at dawn and dusk to prevent attracting predators to her young.
Note: a mother deer will continue to look for her baby up to 72 hours, therefore, if you have picked up a fawn that was alone and mistaken for an orphan you have 72 hours to return this fawn as close as possible to where it was found. Look for spots to determine if it is a young enough fawn to even require assistance.
Signs to look for to determine if the fawn is in trouble:
- Is the fawn lying quietly? Do not be alarmed if the fawn makes no move to run even if you approach. As they are a prey species, instinct alerts them to remain quiet and still in the hopes that the predator (i.e., you) will not notice and move on.
There may be reason for concern if you observe the following:
- Is the fawn wet? This is unnatural and could mean the fawn has been orphaned.
- Does the fawn seem dazed or lethargic?
- Has the fawn spent more than 10 hours in the same spot?
- Is the fawn wandering and crying? Observe from a distance and if no doe has approached the fawn after observing for a while, it may be orphaned.
- Is the fawn covered in ants and/or flies?
- Are the fawn’s eyes or muzzle swollen or weepy?
- Was the fawn found in or near a road? Sometimes White-tailed fawns appear left behind when crossing roads as they are not as fast as their mothers and may not be used to the feel of the pavement. If there is no doe visible, she is most likely hidden on the side of the road awaiting her fawn. Call for assistance.
- Is there a dead or injured doe nearby? In either case, the fawn will need a rehabilitator’s care.
- Is the fawn injured?
- Are there dogs near the fawn? If there is a healthy fawn resting in your
yard and awaiting its mother, please confine your dogs to your house and walk them on leashes. Do not allow them to approach the fawn. If they make contact or chase a fawn for a considerable amount of time, it will need medical assistance.
If you are reading this after having removed a fawn from an area. Please see below for guidance or call San Diego Fawn Rescue.
- Return the fawn as soon as possible as the doe’s milk will begin to dry up in 24 hours. Human and dog scent will not keep the doe from returning to her fawn.
- The doe/fawn bond is very strong. Deer have scent glands in between their hooves that are that help them to find one another. Fawns also have a nursing cry to which the doe will respond.
- Return the fawn as close as possible to the site where it was found. Place the fawn on the ground away from ant hills. Keep all people and pets away from the area. Do not linger or the mother will not return.