Fawn Moratorium Details
Wildlife Images and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) have mutually decided to place a temporary moratorium on the rehabilitation of injured and orphaned fawns.
Although Wildlife Images has qualified staff and a well-equipped facility, the fawns that we have received over the past couple of “baby seasons” are not surviving, for a variety of reasons.
Many orphaned animals received by us and other wildlife rehabilitators are extremely stressed, dehydrated and weakened – an issue complicated by having been fed an improper diet prior to being admitted to the facility. Fawns seem to suffer the most from this.
Most fawns brought in are from the resident urban deer population, where adenovirus, a highly contagious disease, is quite common. The virus causes hemorrhagic enteritis and is almost always fatal. Many of the fawns received during the previous “baby seasons” have exhibited signs of this disease.
Adenovirus is still a relatively new virus in southwest Oregon. The wild populations are probably still adjusting and developing immunity to it. Once an animal starts to show signs of the illness, they die within 24 hours. In spite of doing extensive research and implementing new medical techniques to help care for these animals, we at Wildlife Images have discovered that there is literally nothing we can do to prevent them from succumbing to this disease. Often times all the fawns would be ‘healthy and happy’ during their last evening bottle feeding, but at the morning bottle feeding we would find one had died during the night.
All involved parties feel it is inhumane to try to keep these fawns alive. Any fawns received at Wildlife Images in the coming season will be medically evaluated for signs of the disease.
ODFW and Wildlife Images mutually support this decision and are working together to educate the public to prevent well-intentioned people from picking up fawns that are not in need of help.
Does (female deer) do not spend 24 hours a day with their fawn(s). Fawns are left alone for hours every day while the does forage and self feed. Just because a fawn is found sitting alone does not mean that is orphaned.
Fawns have very little to no odor. Therefore, coyotes, dogs, or other potential predators will not find them unless they literally trip over them in the woods.
Fawns exhibit ‘freeze behavior’ up to at least 2 weeks of age. This means that they are extremely still and don’t make a sound, which often leads people to think that they are ill. This is a normal, instinctual behavior that helps them elude predators.
It takes a doe only 3-4 hours to bond with her fawn. It takes the fawn 3-4 DAYS to bond with its mom. This means that once the fawn is up and moving around, the doe has already bonded with it and will not abandon it. However, the fawn will tend to wander after any large moving object (other does, people, dogs, etc). It is very important for people to understand this; just because a fawn may seem to be following you around doesn’t mean it does not have a mother. Stay away from the fawn, and keep dogs and other pets away from it, and the doe should find it and move it to a safer location.
If people are unsure of whether or not a fawn needs help, it is okay to get close to it to check it out. The doe will not abandon it if she detects human scent. She will move it to another location if she detects danger, which is good because then we will know that the fawn is being taken care of. The average fawn will not move much, if at all, without prompting from its mother. The doe will not move the fawn very far if she doesn’t detect danger, either.
THIS IS A TEMPORARY MORATORIUM, however, Wildlife Images and ODFW expect this moratorium to be in place for several more years. Viral diseases go through wild animal populations naturally (a commonly known example is raccoons and distemper). The deer population in this area has not had enough time to develop immunity to this relatively new viral disease. If, in the future, state biologists start to notice that fewer deer are succumbing to this disease, Wildlife Images and ODFW will consider lifting this moratorium.
If you have any further questions about this issue, please call Wildlife Images at (541)476-0222 or ODFW at (541)826-8774.
Click here for more information regarding what to do if you’ve come across a wild animal.
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