Leave baby deer alone, Minnesota DNR urges

They are cute, and they may look abandoned, but the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says if you see a baby fawn, leave it alone.

According to officials with the DNR, there has been a recent influx in calls regarding what some believe are abandoned fawns. Experts say staying hidden and by itself for most of the day is how little fawns survive their first couple weeks on Earth.

"They instinctively hide within 10 hours of being born, and the doe leaves, continue just to forage, eat, and raise the fawn successfully. The doe is helping the fawn survive by staying away from the area, and not attracting predators," says Todd Froberg from the Minnesota DNR. 

According to Froberg, fawns will spend roughly 90-95% of their first 10 days alive alone to stay safe because they aren't mobile enough yet. 

"That is legitimately the only way they can survive because they can’t evade predators, using their spots to camouflage themselves and evade predators," says Froberg. 

However, some have been confusing hiding with helplessness, and in need of rescue. 

According to DNR conservation officer reports from District No. 2 near Bemidji, on June 6, a conservation officer responded to a tip call of someone in possession of two fawns. That person was afraid the fawns would get hit by a car, so they attempted to save them. Officers report once they responded, one of the fawns had died. The other fawn was taken to a rehabilitation center, and the individual was cited. 

Officials with the DNR say it happens regularly that a person takes in an orphaned or injured animal and tries to care for it themselves instead of turning the animal over to a wildlife rehabilitator. They say the animals usually do not fare well, as people often feed them the wrong food, or they care for them in a way that they can't survive in the wild. While these individuals may be well-intentioned, it often does more harm than good. 

"It is extremely rare that a doe would abandon its fawn," says Froberg. He says that if you have been watching the doe and fawn, and know the doe has been hit by a car or is injured, then call a licensed rehabilitator. They will be able to properly care for the fawn.