Fawns are normally born sometime between late April and early July. Does birth one, two or occasionally three fawns. Finding one alone presents a situation when what not to do is as important as what to do. If you find a fawn, don't move it. A mother doe will put her baby in a place she thinks is safe, usually in tall grass, near a tree or bush, or sometimes near a house. What seems safe and hidden to her at dusk or dawn may not be safe once humans, pets, and cars start moving about. She will nurse her baby, stimulate it to eliminate and clean that up so there is no scent. The doe will then leave the baby alone because she knows her fawn does not have any scent for the first few weeks of its life. However, she does. If she stays with her baby, her scent will attract predators. So she leaves it alone for hours at a time. She may return in the middle of the day, but most often returns at dawn and dusk and will usually move the fawn to a new location.
The baby’s strong natural instincts tell it to stay where it is until the mother returns. It may move around a few feet as its legs get stronger, but will mainly stay hidden near where the mother left it. If something approaches, a healthy fawn may flatten itself to the ground and freeze in an effort to blend in.
If the fawn is lying quietly and is not crying more than a few calls, there is a very good chance its mother has been back and fed it recently and will return again. It is not true that animal mothers will abandon babies that have been touched by humans. Animal mothers want their babies even if a human has touched them. More often than not, mother doe will come back for her baby. But she may be too frightened to come back until the area is clear of all human activity.
(deer browsing sunchoke foliage in my yard, then drank all the water in the bird baths)
Do not move the fawn. People should move far away from the baby and all dogs should be moved inside and contained to give the mother a chance to return. If you have moved the baby, put it back where you found it, facing it away from you. Quickly run away before it follows. If it tries to follow, repeat. Even if it moves, it will want to stay near the cover of the woods and eventually settle down. If it's hungry, its call will bring mother doe. This may take hours. She may wait until dusk or dawn or she may return in the middle of the day, but she will return once the area is void of activity. A few hours after the next dawn or dusk you can return just close enough to check if the baby is gone. Usually it will be. Remember that no one can care for and teach survival skills better than a wild animal’s own mother.
However, if a the fawn is bleeding or obviously injured, covered in flies or maggots, running around frantically, crying nonstop, running after you, lying stretched out on its side, next to its dead mother, has been left well past the next dawn or dusk, is in danger from cars or roads, or is stuck in a fence, contact Animal Control. Do not feed the fawn cow’s milk, infant formula, puppy formula, goat’s milk or any other milk or formula. These can cause severe diarrhea and kill a fawn. A small amount of Pedialyte, Gatorade, or Smart Water at room temperature in a baby bottle will help hydrate a fawn temporarily. Put the injured fawn in a covered dog crate or alone in a small room away from people, pets, and noises. To minimize stress, make sure it's in a warm area that is as quiet and dark as possible.
Do not try to keep the animal. Wild animals require different care than domestic pets do. Fawns have delicate digestive systems. Even a caring person can feed the wrong food and cause more harm than good. A human cannot teach a fawn natural survival skills such as how to retain its natural fears which are necessary to survive in the wild.
Like humans, baby wild animals spend every waking moment learning from their own kind how to survive. They learn what they're supposed to do, who they belong with, what to eat, where it's safe to play, live, sleep, hide, eat, how to get along with others of their kind, and the rules of being a member of a herd. They also learn when to stand their ground and when running away can save their lives. Wild animals that grow up with humans cannot learn these survival skills. They grow up believing they belong with humans. They cannot adapt to life and survival in the wild. When they become adults, grow difficult to maintain, and with no skills for surviving in the wild, if released they become easy prey for the first predator that comes along. If kept captive, they can become dangerous.
(White-tailed deer with chronic wasting disease)
Note of caution: Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a contagious transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) of mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, moose, and reindeer. As of 2016, CWD had been found in members of the deer family only. It causes a spongy degeneration of the brains of infected animals resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and death.
Always make choices that are best for the orphaned or injured fawn and for any other wild animal. Contact animal control as soon as possible so the deer can be properly cared for and eventually returned to the wild with all the skills it needs to survive.