A Kelowna conservation officer is reminding residents to avoid “rescuing” fawns and other young ungulates who are mistaken to be orphaned, adding that these interventions do more harm than good.
“Mother deer, elk and other species may leave their young alone for long periods. To avoid attracting predators, a mother may only return a few times a day to nurse,” said conservation officer Ken Owens.
“When she does return, she can be expected to defend her baby from real or perceived threats-including nearby humans and their pets.”
He added that it’s common for young ungulates to lie quietly in vegetation for hours, especially during the first two weeks of their lives, as they aren’t strong enough to follow their mothers.
“Although these babies may look abandoned, they are not,” he said. “However, if humans remove them from their rest spots, they can end up being orphaned.”
If you spot a fawn quietly resting alone, Owens said keep away from the area and leave it alone.
“Every year, well-meaning people doom deer fawns to an unnatural life in confinement or kill them accidentally by ‘rescuing’ them,’” he said. “It’s dangerous and unnecessary. This is especially a problem in Kelowna, where lots of people and deer coexist.”
He noted that the conservation officer service is taking “a hard stance” on the issue in an effort to eliminate it, highlighting the $345 fine one can face for unlawful possession of live wildlife.
“Conservation officers are reminding people that the best thing they can do to ensure a fawn’s survival is to leave the newborn deer fawns alone,” he said.