Don't Be A Fawn Kidnapper



Wildlife Center of Virginia Offers Advice for Caring for Deer Fawns 


     Each spring, the Wildlife Center of Virginia, an internationally acclaimed teaching and research hospital for wildlife located in Waynesboro, receives hundreds of telephone inquiries from concerned individuals from across Virginia who have found a White-tailed Deer fawn. 


       In most cases, these fawns are in fine shape and need no human intervention.


       In Virginia, White-tailed Deer fawns are born from April through July, with the majority of births in June.  From birth the fawns are left alone for much of the day while their mothers go off to feed.  This reduces the likelihood that the mother will attract a predator to the fawn.  Mothers generally return only at dusk and dawn to move and feed fawns. 


       A healthy fawn found during the day most likely has not been abandoned and does not need to be “rescued”.


       “Don’t be a fawn kidnapper,” Ed Clark, President of the Wildlife Center, said.  “In most cases, a fawn found alone has not been abandoned and is not helpless – it’s a young animal still receiving care from its mother.  Despite our well-meaning intentions, the best chance for survival of a fawn is to leave it in its mother’s care.”


       The Wildlife Center encourages individuals who care about wildlife to ask questions first about the most appropriate course of action:


Is the fawn injured [bleeding, broken bones, wounds, caught on a fence, hit by a car, etc.]:


  • If NO, leave the uninjured fawn where it is.  [If a fawn is found in a ditch next to a road, it may be moved a short distance to a safer location.]  Never expect to see the mother come back to the fawn while you are in the area.  Check back on the fawn in   24 to 48 hours.  The mother should have moved the fawn.
  •  If  YES – if the fawn is clearly injured, or if the mother is known to be dead [i.e., hit by a car] – contact the Wildlife Center [540.942.9453] or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for help [additional contact information may be found in the “rescue advice” section of the Center’s website at]  Do not attempt to feed the fawn or give it fluids, especially cow’s milk, unless instructed to do so by a qualified individual.

        Orphaned fawns will need to be cared for until they are old enough to be released in early fall.  Raising a wild animal in captivity, including a deer fawn, is illegal in Virginia for individuals who do not hold appropriate state permits. 


      The Wildlife Center was founded as an emergency room and hospital for wildlife in 1982.  The Wildlife Center has cared for more than 52,000 animals, representing more than 200 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians from every corner of Virginia.  


      A primary goal of the Center is to “treat to release” – to restore patients to health and return as many as possible to the wild.  The Center provides state-of-the-art medical care for the sick and injured, and sustained, quality foster care so that animals may be returned to the wild with the ability to survive, and thrive, in their native habitats.   


       The Center works with a network of wildlife rehabilitators – volunteers holding a permit issued by the Commonwealth of Virginia to treat injured and orphaned wildlife.  Center staff provides training classes across Virginia in wildlife rehabilitation, hosts an annual wildlife rehabilitation conference, and maintains up-to-date contact information for wildlife rehabilitators, including some rehabilitators with expertise in and facilities designed for specific species. 


       The Center trains veterinary and conservation professionals from all over the world and is actively involved in comprehensive wildlife health studies and the surveillance of emerging diseases.