Sometimes, well intentioned people see young animals without a parent nearby, and the first thought is that the animal is orphaned or abandoned and needs help. However, in almost every case the parent is watching close by. Remember, a wild animal’s best chance for survival is in its natural environment where it can learn normal behaviors from its own species. Ohio’s native wildlife have developed specific survival techniques that have been proven to work year after year. Also, these species have complex nutritional needs that are difficult to replicate in captivity.
This week we’ll highlight the survival techniques of the white-tailed deer. A deer fawn is born with amazing camouflage. Its coat is reddish-brown and covered with white spots, allowing it to blend in with the surrounding vegetation. A newborn fawn is nearly scentless and has a natural instinct to curl into a tight ball and remain motionless when danger is near. A doe does not stay with her offspring, which is another instinctive behavior so as not to tip a predator off to the fawn’s location. The doe returns only to feed its fawn or fawns, or to move them to a new location. A fawn can forage and run from danger with its mother after about three weeks. If a doe leaves its fawn in your flowerbed or near your home, think of it as a safe location. Keep people and pets out of the area. The female will move it within a day or so.
Visit wildohio.gov/staywild for information on what you can do to prevent wildlife orphans.