Officials ask Rhode Islanders not to touch baby deer spotted in the wild

A fawn is hidden in grass. (Photo courtesy of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — As spring warms into summer, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is asking the public not to touch fawns and baby animals.

White-trailed deer have their babies in May and June. The agency says it receives many calls each year for abandoned fawns, and it’s almost never true.

“In nature, the mother deer gives birth and for the next five to seven days, the fawn is incapable of following the mother, so it is natural for the fawn to lie in a curled ‘freeze’ position on the ground hidden in grass or sparse brush,” said DEM’s Division of Fish and Wildlife Biologist Dylan Ferreira.

Don’t be alarmed if you see a fawn curled up and by itself; chances are it is perfectly OK.

They often lie motionless out of survival instincts, not because they are hurt or sick.

“Sometimes, however, well-intentioned people will assume the fawn is abandoned and take it home to ‘save’ it from predators or domestic animals,” Ferreira continued. “In fact, the doe will often be nearby out of sight and will only come to the fawn a few times during the day or after dark to feed it.”

In short, DEM is asking people to leave fawns — and all baby animals in the wild — alone. Taking the fawn away means removing it from its mother, which can put its life in jeopardy.

Baby deer will be able run at about 7 to 10 days old. They can follow and eat alongside their mothers at about one month old.

The department said the best thing people can do if they see one is to not draw any attention to it.

On rare occasions, a fawn may come up to a person or a pet. If that happens, the public is asked to immediately leave the area — the doe will not come out until people and pets have gone.

“Fawns should not be handled – and counterintuitive as it may seem – do not need your help. Fawns are well camouflaged and have very little scent, which helps protect them from predators,” Ferreira said.

Those who believe they see a fawn in an unsafe area, like a road, can report the concern to DEM’s Division of Law Enforcement 24-hour dispatch at 401-222-3070.


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