You could be doing more harm than good when trying to help wild baby animals

Published: May. 24, 2023 at 7:16 PM CDT
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RHINELANDER, Wis. (WSAW) - Leaving kids alone for days is something most parents would never do. It’s against human nature, but in the animal world, it’s seen as normal. However, the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Rhinelander and the DNR have seen an increase in calls concerned about these animals.

“Most people don’t really know natural history. They see a baby alone and assume it must be orphaned,” said Mark Nanjot, Director of Rehabilitation at Wild Instincts in Rhinelander.

Most fawns who are just laying down and curled up quietly, don’t need help. They are usually found in tall grass or near bushes so that they are concealed from potential predators while their mother is away. Although, they can sometimes be found in more open areas such as backyards.

“Sometimes mothers and parents have to find food for themselves too, and maybe they just need a break for a little bit,” said Amanda Kamps, Wildlife Health Conservation Specialist at the DNR.

An animal’s motherly instinct is too strong for them to simply abandon their offspring for no reason. Kamps said the best thing you can do for these animals is to give them space.

If you do think that they need help Kamps offered some tips on what your next steps should be.

“Leave the fawn where it is and then make some phone calls or look up some information. Don’t just take the fawn initially and then try to find information,” said Kamps.

Many people believe that just touching a baby fawn with their bare hands will cause the mom to stay away for good.

“That’s actually a myth. So, some human scent on a young animal will not discourse the mother or parents to come back for it. Still, you want to limit how much interaction you have with the young animal,” added Kamps.

Fawns are usually born between mid-May to mid-June. As we approach Memorial Day Weekend, it’s a good time to be aware of those newborns out and about as they explore their new environments.

“So we have all these people that come up from cities and different areas that aren’t familiar with how natural history goes with deer and fawns. So that’s where we have our biggest conflicts,” Nanjot said.

It’s important to be aware of what a healthy fawn looks like.

“We have a limited capacity, we can only take so many. And when we hit that capacity, those fawns have no place to go and they end up having to be euthanized,” said Nanjot.

If you do see a fawn and are wondering what actions to take, contact the DNR or any wildlife habilitation center for guidance. You can also find a guide on the DNR website here.