While the sight of a fawn generally triggers a justifiable squeal of delight, seeing the animal curled up in the same spot all day may cause some concern, but don't be too worried. Solitary fawns are rarely orphaned or abandoned.
White-tailed deer leave fawns for a greater part of the day while the mother fends for food. For this reason, the adorable "doe-eyed" fawns stay curled up in one spot, nestled among leaves or trees or in fields and gardens. A doe spends the pre-dawn hours searching for the perfect spot to leave her young for the day because fawns are not quick enough to keep up with their mother's pace.
"When they are still too young to follow their mother around, fawns spend between 6 and 10 hours alone," Jim Monsma, the Center Director of Second Chance Wildlife Center, a wildlife rehabilitation center located in Gaithersburg, Md., said. "Generally, they lie in one spot quietly, although some are better behaved than others."
If a fawn is removed from its spot, the mother will not be able to find her baby when she returns to nurse. Also, some fawns imprint quickly and may begin to follow a human who moves the baby, causing even more harm to the fawn and its mother, Monsma said.
People often assume that if a fawn does not run away from an approaching human it is because the animal is in trouble. Not so, according to the wildlife center. Deer are a prey species and will instinctually stay still and quiet in hopes that a predator will not perceive them.
The Second Chance Wildlife Center receives "tons and tons" of phone calls about abandoned fawns. "I blame Disney's "Bambi," which portrays a fawn not being allowed to stray from its mother's side," Monsma said. "People cannot fathom that a mother deer would leave her baby all alone for up to ten hours."
Most of the calls the wildlife center receives are false alarms and the concerned callers generally make matters worse when they intervene. "We are constantly trying to convince people to leave the deer alone," the Center Director asserted.
Initially, the callers want to bring the lone fawn into the center when it is not necessary and then want to provide the deer with food and water, potentially scaring away the mother "when she suddenly finds her baby surrounded by buckets of water, piles of apples and other foods," Monsma explained.
There are a few infrequent exceptions, however, when a fawn may need help. A fawn that is loudly bleating is hungry and may have lost its mother. In this case, the fawn will begin to approach other animals, and possibly humans, hoping to be fed, Monsma said. At this point, it is best to contact a local wildlife rehabilitation center for advice. Additionally, if a fawn has been left alone for more than 10 hours it may be time to contact a local wildlife rehabilitator. A doe will generally not desert her young for over 10 hours as they will need to nurse, so this is a sign that something may be wrong. A wildlife rehabilitation center should be contacted if a fawn appears obviously injured, as well.
But in most instances, if you see an adorable little fawn curled up in a ball and sleeping all alone, do not be disturbed. The mother is out of sight, but nearby; and mother always knows best, even in the wild!