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Mom Leaves Baby Unattended

A fawn lies hidden just off the track of a well-used deer trail in Cinebar. This fawn and its twin were not abandoned by their mother, only stashed in the underbrush while the mother fed nearby. If you come across a fawn, leave it alone and leave the area quickly and quietlly.

Leave a baby alone? Unattended? For hours at a time? What kind of mother does that?? A very good, responsible, and very deer mother, that’s who.

Don’t Fret, Mommie Deer-est Has a Plan

Every year at this time, many hikers, gardeners, and landowners will stumble upon a seemingly “abandoned” fawn, huddled in tall grasses or under bushes. And then — all too often — those people take the fawn to a state wildlife department or wildlife rescue group.

But the baby deer isn’t orphaned, she is right where Mommie Deer-est wanted her to be — safely stashed away.

Doe deer separate from the herd when they are ready to give birth and then stay away during the fawn’s first few weeks of life. When the doe stashes her baby in cover between feedings, she is keeping her baby safer by staying away from it.

It doesn’t make sense to humans, but for a deer? It’s the best possible plan.

Fawns are born virtually scentless. The only way a predator can find a hiding fawn is when the mother hangs around too closely — drawing the predator in with her own scent. That is why the mother feeds and rests several yards away from her fawn.

The mother even eats the fawn’s droppings and urine to keep the area free of scents that will attract predators.

A mother deer leaves her baby alone in the woods for safety reasons. And for the safety of the baby, you must also stay away.

An Odd Doe’s Idea of “Safe”

Dianna McLeod, of Mossyrock, posted her story on Facebook earlier this month:

“Grams was here looking at my flowers in front of the house when we hear Oreo (my dog) screeching at the top of her lungs and around the corner of the house a deer, on her hind legs, comes towards Grams! She stops for a second, then bounds into the woods — the deer, not Grams! I hear Oreo under the pool deck and on top of the deck I find … “

Click photo for larger view.

Anyone coming upon a fragile newborn like this would be understandably distressed. What an odd place for a doe to stash her fawn!

But it seems this mother had determined that the best place for her newborn was under her human neighbor’s watchful eye — and she was right!

Dianna kept a watchful eye over the vulnerable fawn throughout the day until …

“UPDATE!! I was out in the garden towards dusk and heard the fawn crying for it’s mama and then heard the mama coming in the woods, so I hightailed it out of there … baby is safe with her mama!” ~A Very Relieved Dianna McLeod

What If You Find a Sick or Injured Animal?

“Wild animals of any age that show obvious signs of illness or injury such as bleeding, vomiting, panting, shivering, or ruffled feathers or fur, or that are just lethargic and make no effort to escape your approach, may indeed be in need of care,” according to WDFW Crossing Paths website.

However, call a wildlife rehabilitator first before attempting to pick the animal up. You’ll find a list of local area wildlife rehabilitators below.

SW Washington Wildlife Rehabilitators

Photo by Larry B. Mason, June 18, 2008

Lori Barrett
Castle Rock, WA 98611
360-957-7925

Tammy Yuth
We Are One Wildlife Center

Chehalis, WA 98532
360-239-7090
Notes: Mammals only

Angela Messmer
The Friends of Slim Pickens Wildlife Rescue

2943 E Hoquiam Rd
Hoquiam, WA 98550
Mon-Fri 8:00-5:00 360-532-5912
Night/Cell Phone: Sat-Sun 10:00-5:00 360-533-6990

Three days later the doe is still stashing her fawn under a back porch. Mother knows best.

Dr. Malisha Serrano – Ocean Beach Vet Clinic
4011 Ocean Beach Hwy; Box 111
Longview, WA 98632
360-425-0850
Notes: All spp except raccoons

Dr. Kenneth L. Olson
Willapa Veterinary Service

231 Ocean Ave
Raymond, WA 98577
360-942-2321
Notes: Initial care only

Claudia Supensky
For Heaven’s Sake Animal Rescue and Rehab

P.O. Box 12417
Rochester (15 mi S of Tumwater), WA 98579
360-273-0550
Notes: Mammals only; NO BIRDS

Carol Ekker
3515 Sundew Ln SE
Tenino, WA 98589
360-264-4283
Notes: Sm mammals

Yelm Veterinary Hospital
1120 Yelm Ave W
Yelm, WA 98597
360-458-7707
Notes: INITIAL CARE ONLY

Jackie Marsden – Squirrel Refuge
Vancouver, WA 98668
360-713-1143
Notes: Small mammals only

About Kimberly Mason

Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer, photojournalist, and web designer. When she's not out chasing a story, you'll find her at work in one her three main offices — her big backyard, the Cowlitz River, or the recliner in her living room. She has four grown children, three grandchildren, and is owned by a Labrador retriever, Buddy the WonderDog.

One comment

  1. Great reminder! Thanks for sharing.

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