In the spring we often get calls from people who have been out walking or working in their yard and have found a deer fawn, with no mother deer in sight. Because they don’t see a mother right there next to the fawn, they mistakenly conclude that the fawn is orphaned. Actually, the fawn’s mother is usually feeding or resting nearby, aware and ready to respond to the needs of her fawn. When the fawn is not actively nursing, the mother keeps some distance away to minimize the potential for a predator to find her fawn. Fawns are born with almost no scent and are equipped with characteristic spots that function as camouflage. They are also quite weak and can’t run very far or very fast, to evade predators. So, a young fawn will lie still all day, even when people are nearby, resting until the mother returns. Once the fawn becomes strong enough, she will begin following her mother full-time.
If you encounter a fawn alone, it is usually best not to intervene – the mom deer is probably nearby. An exception is a fawn that has been up walking around and crying for an hour or more. If you have questions about a deer in Milwaukee County that seems to be in distress, call the Wisconsin Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at (414) 431-6204.