What should you do if you find a fawn in your garage? That’s not a question most people have had to ask themselves, but it was one that faced a St. Louis area family recently. After a call to the Missouri Department of Conservation, they had an answer—leave it alone.
Many people’s first instinct when they find a baby deer, squirrel, or rabbit all alone is that they should help it, but that is the last thing you should do. The best thing to do is to leave it alone.
Last Saturday, a young fawn was found in Carol Banta’s back yard near Steelville. After several hours of not moving, even when it was getting its picture taken from the back porch, the fawn finally heard its mother calling and trotted into the woods to be reunited with her.
It is not uncommon at all for young deer to be placed close to homes by their mothers because they know it’s a place not frequented by their natural predators, mostly coyotes in our area. A fawn will lie still for hours, relying on its camouflaged, white-spotted coat to keep it hidden from predators.
The Missouri Department of Conservation encourages people to leave young wild animals alone. Keep the following in mind before ever acting to assist a young deer or other young animal:
• Baby animals are rarely abandoned. The wildlife parent is afraid of people and will retreat when you approach. If the baby animal is left alone, the parent will usually return. In addition, parent animals cannot constantly attend their young. Often, they spend many hours each day gathering food.
• Wild animals, if they are to survive in captivity, often require highly specialized care. Without such care they will remain in poor health and may eventually die.
• As wild animals mature, they can become dangerous to handle and damaging to property.
• Animals are better off in their natural habitat where they are free to reproduce and carry on their species.
• If a wild animal is broken to captivity, it will probably die if returned to the wild.
• Many wild animals are nocturnal. This means that they are not active until after dark. They sleep during the day and can be quite disturbing at night while people sleep.
• Native wildlife carry mites, ticks, lice, fleas, flukes, roundworms, tapeworms, rabies, distemper, tuberculosis, respiratory diseases, and skin diseases. Some of these diseases can be transmitted to humans.
It is illegal to possess many wild animals without a valid state or federal permit. See the Wildlife Code of Missouri for details, visit mdc.mo.gov or contact the Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, Missouri 65102.