Orphaned or Injured Fawns

Always contact us if you have questions or need advice.



Natural History for White-tailed Deer

White-tailed deer are born around May or June in Indiana. A doe (adult female deer) can give birth from one to three fawns, which can stand and walk within 20 minutes of birth. Fawns have a reddish-brown color with white spots, which provides camouflage when they are lying on the ground. Also, fawns have no scent. Both their coloration and their lack of scent protect them from predators.

Does leave their fawns alone for the majority of the day because they are less likely to be found by predators if they are alone. The doe returns a few minutes to nurse them several times a day, but quickly leaves again. She may lead them to a new location before she leaves. The doe is always within hearing distance of her fawns and will return if they call her. When approached by predators, very young fawns "freeze" and remain instead of running away.

Therefore, people who encounter fawns often think they need help because they are alone and still. They do not need help and should not be touched. The best thing to do is to quietly leave the area immediately, because the doe will not return to her fawns while humans are present. It is important that you leave so the doe can return and care for her fawns and to minimize your scent trail that predators may follow.

Typically, by July or August when the fawns are around 6 weeks old, they begin to forage on their own, eating more vegetation and nursing less frequently. People often see fawns of this age wandering through the woods or fields, sometimes with their mother and sometimes alone. Again, this is normal and these fawns should not be disturbed.

Assessing If a Fawn is Injured

The following list of signs should make you concerned that a fawn is orphaned or injured. If you see any of these signs, please call us before you intervene!

  • The fawn is making crying noises
  • The fawn is wet or newly born (and is alone)
  • The fawn is in or near a road and is not trying to leave
  • The fawn has an obvious serious injury or broken bone
  • The fawn was chased or attacked by dogs (or another predator)

We ask you contact us before you intervene because each situation is different and needs to be assessed by a trained professional wildlife rehabilitator to determine what is in the best interest of the fawn.

While waiting for us to respond:

  • If the fawn is in IMMEDIATE danger (for example, if it is lying in a road), then move it only far enough be out of immediate danger (for example, move it to the side of the road) .
  • Keep track of the fawn's location.
  • Keep children and pets away from the fawn.
  • Keep noises to a minimum.
  • DO NOT bring the fawn indoors.
  • DO NOT touch or pet the fawn. Petting the fawn will cause it to become stressed, which sometimes can lead to its death.
  • DO NOT offer food or water to the fawn. If the fawn is fed something it is not used to eating, then it will become sick.

Why Can't I Keep It?

  • The doe is looking for her baby.
  • A fawn's best chance for survival is with its mother.
  • Fawns have very specific dietary requirements that are difficult to meet artificially. When those requirements are not met, bones and internal organs do not develop properly. Once the damage is done, it cannot be reversed.
  • Artificial diets fed to fawns by wildlife rehabilitators are extremely expensive.
  • Feeding and caring for a fawn is very time consuming.
  • A fawn raised with humans is not properly socialized to live with deer in the wild. It will not know how to survive in the wild.
  • Captivity causes stress to deer, which is unhealthy both physically and mentally.
  • Wild animals never make good pets. The cute fawn stage lasts only a few months, and full-grown deer can be dangerous. Their behavior is governed by instinct, so unpredictable and dangerous actions are common.
  • Keeping a fawn is against the law.

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