Now that summer is almost in full swing, local wildlife groups are warning the public to keep an eye out for more deer.
Although experts said it’s okay to look, they said you shouldn’t always touch a wild animal, even if you think it’s hurt.
“We always say, unless an animal is in immediate danger – if it’s in the middle of the road, if it’s in the cat’s mouth – then you should intervene,” said Heather Sparks, manager of rescue and rehabilitation at the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center in Boyce. “But if not, if it’s just hopping around in your yard or maybe you think it’s injured or you think it’s orphaned, you can give us a call.”
Baby deer are born from April through July and now that about 50 percent have already been born, Sparks said she and her colleagues have been fielding a lot of questions.
“We spend a lot of time answering calls about what people believe to be injured or orphaned fawns. Most of the time, they’re not,” she said.
But this doesn’t just apply to deer. Sparks said it’s a misconception that people have about any animal that spends time alone at an early age, such as birds and rabbits.
“A lot of time [humans] think they’re orphaned because the mom is not around and they can’t see her, but it’s not unusual for her to leave them alone for hours at a time,” Sparks said.
According to Sparks, another misconception is that people often think an animal that doesn’t move when it’s approached is injured, but it may just be protecting itself.
“A lot of times, people think, ‘well, I walked up to the animal, my dog walked up to the animal, the cars are driving past the animal, but it’s not moving, so it must be injured.’ That’s not true. It’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to be doing so that it can be safe from natural predators, which we and cars are not,” Sparks said.
She said predators like birds respond to motion, so staying still helps keep animals like deer safe from attacks.
But she said she’s had experiences involving perfectly healthy animals being brought to her because people think the animal is injured.
While she doesn’t recommend picking up an animal immediately, Sparks said the human scent from touching a wild animal usually won’t deter the mother from coming back.
“If you think about where the deer are, there are human smells everywhere. If they leave them underneath your porch or near a library, there’s people smells everywhere and it’s the same thing with birds and other animals. The mom will take them back,” she said.
Sparks also said baby deer will “cry” when they’re hungry, which people often think is a sign of distress.
Unless the fawn is crying for more than an hour, she said everything is probably fine and no help is needed.