As fawns are born this season, wildlife officials are warning residents not to jump to conclusions if they see young deer alone.
White-tailed deer fawns will start appearing in area fields and yards as they are born between April and July this year, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries said.
Year after year concerned citizens want to help, but in most cases giving the fawn space and not interfering is the best course of action.
“The best advice for someone who wants to help wildlife is to keep it wild,” the department said.
Citizens sometime assume animals are orphaned if they are found alone, the department said. Many solitary animals, even young deer, are not orphaned but simply left alone for long periods of time.
Female deer, called does, often leave their fawns alone to avoid leading predators like dogs and coyotes to their location.
Fawns hide instinctually and lay motionless in vegetation. They do not run away when they are approached.
Does return to their offspring multiple times a day to move and feed their fawns.
If less than 24 hours have passed since a fawn has been “rescued,” the fawn should be taken back to the exact location it was found. Raising a wild animal is illegal without a VDGIF wildlife rehabilitation permit.
“Once people interfere, we reduce the opportunity for animals to receive natural care and we increase the risk of harming our wildlife heritage,” the department said.
If an animal is injured or truly orphaned, citizens should contact the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries at (855) 571-9003 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or visit the VDGIF website.