Do You Know How to Help White-tailed Deer Fawns This Summer?

During mid-May, the Wildlife Center of Virginia began to admit the first White-tailed Deer fawns of 2022. While some of the most common reasons fawns are admitted to the Center are related to physical injuries, “abduction with intent of rescue” – also known as fawn-napping – can result in otherwise healthy fawns being unnecessarily admitted. White-tailed Deer fawns are extremely sensitive and often do poorly when cared for by humans. A fawn’s best chance of survival is with its mother in the wild. During the coming months, the Center is likely to admit dozens of additional fawns; knowing when a fawn is in need of care, and when it should be left alone, could save a wild life this summer!

In Virginia, White-tailed Deer fawns are born April through July, with the majority of fawns born in June. Until they are strong enough to keep up with their mothers, deer fawns are left alone while the does go off to feed. Mother deer will stay away from the fawns to avoid leading predators to their young. Fawns are typically left in an area with tall grass or bushes, but sometimes they are left in more open areas, including backyards. When humans encounter an unattended fawn, they may assume the baby is orphaned; however, does almost always return to their fawns by night or early morning.

Unless a fawn is ill or injured, the Wildlife Center staff first encourages attempts to reunite fawns with their mothers before they are admitted to the Wildlife Center. If you find a fawn alone that you think might need help, use the following chart to guide your choice of intervention:

Fun Facts about White-tailed Deer:

  • The Wildlife Center admitted 117 White-tailed Deer in 2021. This was the fourth most-numerous mammal species seen.
  • Similarly to some other native mammals (like rabbits and mice) female deer are called “does”, and males are called “bucks”
  • Fawns weigh about six to eight pounds at birth and will weigh about 60-70 pounds by their first winter. Fully-grown adults typically weigh between 100-150 pounds.
  • Deer are a high-stress species prone to a condition called capture myopathy, which is caused by chase and stress. Never chase a fawn to capture it, even if it’s injured and needs rescuing. 

For an in-depth guide on how to identify when fawns are injured, including important safety precautions for human rescuers, click here. For tips on how to live more harmoniously with wild deer in your area, visit the Center’s Deer as Neighbors page.