TUCSON, Ariz. – Another increase in the number of deer fawns reported to be in distress is again prompting the Arizona Game and Fish Department to remind the public to leave baby wildlife alone.
“There is almost never an occasion when you should remove a baby wild animal from its natural environment. It is always better to call a wildlife rehabilitator to remove or assess a wild animal than to do it yourself,” said Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of Game and Fish in Tucson. “If you’ve already picked up a young animal, please put it back exactly where you found it, or under a shrub nearby where its mother can find it.”
Vega noted that does often leave their fawns lying alone for the entire day while they feed. Because deer can transmit Chronic Wasting Disease to other deer, which is similar to Mad Cow Disease, they should almost never be brought in from the wild. Local wildlife rehabilitators cannot take in deer fawns due to CWD concerns, and that if a zoo or sanctuary is not found then the deer fawns have to be euthanized.
“If you have taken a young deer from the wild, immediately take it back to exactly where you found it. Do not release it in a different location; its mother will be unable to find it,” Vega said, adding that if you cannot return it to the wild, the public should call the Arizona Game and Fish Wildlife Center at 623-582-9806 or the Game and Fish Tucson office at 520-628-5376 immediately.
Similar guidance applies to baby birds, which often fall out of nests. Young birds often spend a few days on or near the ground while they are learning to fly but are still being fed by their parents.
Place a fallen bird in a tree or shrub or on a shaded portion of a roof, out of the way of cats, dogs, and children. If the nest can be reached safely, the bird may be returned to the nest. It’s a myth that bird parents will reject their young if they smell like people.
Game and Fish further advises that before you assume an animal is in trouble, wait and watch: young animals are often left alone for hours at a time while their parents gather food. If an animal is shivering, obviously injured, or if its parents have been killed, then call a wildlife rehabilitator.
Sick animals will often be very lethargic and may sneeze, drool, pant, shiver, or sit ruffled. Injured animals may limp, drag limbs, or have obvious wounds. If the sick or injured animal is a large game animal, such as a deer, javelina, mountain lion, or bear, or a potential danger to handlers, such as a coyote, bobcat, or large bird, call Game and Fish in Tucson or Radio Dispatch at (623) 236-7201.