Found a fawn and don’t know what to do? In any case, you should first keep calm and not touch the young. The fawns sitting in the field without any smell of their own must not take on the smell of people. You can read more about this and how you should generally behave if you find a fawn below.
Mother deer leave their young alone in tall grass most of the day for their own protection – Shutterstock / Debbie Steinhausser
Fawns are usually born in May or June and only follow their mother from the fourth week of life. Before that, the little ones sit for about a week in meadows near the forest or fields in the high grass. There they are threatened by predators such as wild boar or foxes and by mowers. If you see a fawn somewhere – at first glance “orphaned” – crouching in the grass, you usually don’t have to worry and intervene in some way. Often the mother is not far and the little one is fine.
Fawns are left alone by mother deer for protection
What sounds funny actually makes sense: mother deer leave their young alone in the grass for many hours for their own protection. They often only come to their offspring for about 35 minutes a day to suckle them. In this way, the animals instinctively prevent possible enemies from becoming aware of the young. A fawn is naturally perfectly camouflaged with its spotted coat and no odor of its own as the mother licks it off after birth – these two qualities protect the wild animals as they lie in the long grass waiting to be suckled. So just because you’ve found a fawn doesn’t mean it’s orphaned. It is more likely that the mother is nearby and will stop by to nurse sooner or later.
Fawn found: Do not touch!
It is vital that you do not touch the fawn. If it takes on a human scent, it can be rejected by its mother and must then starve. Unfortunately, passers-by who have found a fawn often mistake it for orphans and want to pet the cute wild animal or even take it with them – both would be fatal decisions for the animal, as it is separated from the mother deer, who gives it vital milk.
How to behave correctly: First observe
Once you’ve found a fawn, do the right thing by simply observing it from afar. This also guarantees that you will not disturb the doe (the female deer), which is usually not far. If you want to be on the safe side, you should watch the young longer and wait for the mother deer to come back. If this does not happen even after hours, you can ask the responsible forestry office, the hunter or the nearest wildlife station for help. The experts then take over the case and take care of the possibly orphaned fawn. Please do not trade on your own.
When the deer is injured or in imminent danger
If you find a fawn or an adult deer in an acutely dangerous situation, there is often not enough time to wait for professional help from a forest ranger or hunter. If you find an animal injured or trapped in a fence whose life is clearly threatened, you can provide immediate assistance. In any case, only do this if the animal is in a life-threatening situation, such as bleeding heavily or threatening to suffocate, and you really think you can do it. Then, depending on the situation, try to stabilize the animal or take it out of the danger area and drive to the nearest wildlife sanctuary or to a veterinarian. Ideally, you should wear gloves. Tip: Before you take action, call a wildlife station or the forestry office and describe the situation. At best, you will receive tips on how to proceed correctly over the phone.
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