We are warning that removing fawns from the wild after assuming they have been abandoned could cause their death.
Female deer will leave their young from an early age in long grass or under bushes to protect them from predators while they forage for food. As they are a prey animal, the fawn's instinct is to lie as still as possible so as not to attract predators, leading to members of the public mistakenly thinking they are sick, injured or abandoned.
Assistant manager of our National Wildlife Rescue Centre, April Sorely said: “We know that people have the best intentions but removing fawns from their natural habitat can do more harm than good.
“The public may think this is not a serious issue as the animals can be cared for by us but fawns are possibly the most complex and challenging animal we deal with at the National Wildlife Rescue Centre. In many cases removing that young animal from the wild is effectively a death sentence.
“Just last week we have had a fawn arriving at the centre after a well-meaning member of the public took them home for a few days after their mother was killed on a road. Now, they are struggling to feed after being fed unsuitable food and milk and it could take several days to get them to eat.
“This means sitting with them as much as possible, all day and all night, trying to encourage them. This process is very stressful for them and for the members of staff involved. They are aware that convincing the animal that they aren’t a threat and to take a feed is literally the difference between life and death.
“As the deer are so stressed at this time, we have to limit the number of staff who work with the fawns to keep the process as consistent as possible. This then impacts the rest of the team who need to cover the care of animals in other parts of the centre.
“These are wild animals, not domesticated pets who are used to human interaction, so trying to pet or comfort them only causes more stress. Sadly, this increased stress has caused fawns and deer who have been brought into our care to die.
“Another call this week was a concern for a fawn lying on a golf course with their mother nearby, as the member of the public felt it was an unsuitable environment for them. Fortunately, we were able to convince that member of the public to leave the animals alone so they could move on in their own time.
“We can’t stress this strongly enough, please leave these animals in the wild where they belong.
“If you spot a fawn who is walking around and calling out, they may need help. Monitor the fawn from a distance for a few hours and, if no mother returns to feed the baby, then please call our helpline for advice on 03000 999 999. Removing a fawn when there is no need to can cause great distress to mother and baby.”
To report any injured or distressed animal, contact our animal helpline on 03000 999 999.
Visit our deer advice page for more information.