It’s the time of the year for white-tailed deer fawns to hit the ground, literally. They are liable to turn up anywhere at anytime. Most of the time they are just fine and don’t need any help from us. Please resist the urge to pick them up and try to care for them.
First of all, it is illegal to pick up and possess any game animal without the proper permits. Unlawful possession of a wild white-tailed fawn is punishable by a fine of up to $500, plus restitution. There are no permits available from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department that will allow someone to pick up wild white-tailed deer fawns and make pets out of them.
Secondly, even the most well-intentioned person can do more harm than good when trying to care for a fawn. Improper handling and feeding can cause irreparable damage. Only TPWD-licensed wildlife rehabilitators can pick up injured protected wildlife.
Most of the calls received from folks concerning fawns actually need no action anyway. A fawn is not necessarily orphaned or abandoned just because there is no doe in the area. It is perfectly normal for a doe to drop off a fawn for the day while she goes off to feed. If you find a fawn just lying there on the ground don’t be too surprised. That’s exactly what it’s supposed to do.
Sometimes, however they get restless and get up to move around a bit. Fawns will walk right up to people out of curiosity. They have not yet developed the instinct to fear humans, but they will. It’s alright to move a fawn off of the road, out of your driveway, out of your yard, etc. Move it to a shady location with some cover and leave it alone.
Ninety-nine percent of the time, the mother will turn up, usually during the night, to care for her fawn. Then she will leave again with or without her baby.
So, unless you are absolutely positive that the fawn is orphaned, leave it alone. If it is obvious that the fawn is severely injured, then call your local state game warden who may arrange for a licensed rehabilitator to pick it up. Otherwise, let nature take its course.
Game wardens understand that people don’t like to hear that some baby animals just won’t survive. But, the less we interfere, the better. Survival of the fittest is nature’s way of ensuring the future of a species.
Also, many species of animals such as opossums, coons, fox, and most species of birds are in some way protected by law, and it’s unlawful to possess them. It is recommended that you not pick up any wild animal without first contacting the local game warden.
Kerry L. Peterson,
State Game Warden