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Fawn napping: What it is and why you need to avoid it

File photo.

File photo.

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Monday, June 20, 2016, 8:45 PM - Every year, experts plead with the public to leave wild animals alone. However, the pleas continue to be ignored and news headlines serve as constant reminders, churning out stories of human intervention into acts of nature that are perfectly normal, like fawn-napping.

So, what is fawn napping?

Young deer can't keep up with adults so babies are often be left in a safe spot, alone, for hours on end while mom searches for food.

Often, members of the public will think the babies have been abandoned and attempt to 'rescue' them. This is fawn napping, and experts say it does far more harm than good.


Unlike most animals fawns are born without a strong scent, allowing them to go undetected by predators.

When the mother looks for food, she'll typically leave her young hidden in tall grass or another equally isolated spot.

“So she tells them ‘lay here in the tall grass a predator can’t find you because you don’t smell like anything and I will come back,’” Angela Fontana, with Critter Care Wildlife Society, told Global News.

Issues arise when the mother returns and finds her fawn is no longer there and has been taken by a human.

Over the years, animals experts say fawn napping has increased.


And not everyone brings the babies to the experts: In some instances, people will try to adopt the fawn with disastrous results.

Chantal Theijn, an authorized wildlife custodian with Hobbitstee Wildlife Refuge, told Global a baby deer had to be euthanized when it was surrendered to her organization after two weeks living with humans. The fawn was emaciated, dehydrated and suffering from untreatable kidney failure after being cared for by the humans.

For deer that survive being raised by humans, they tend to be less fearless of people and domestic pets once re-released, which can cause the animal to come to harm.

In Canada, it is illegal to keep wildlife in captivity or to harass wildlife. Penalties vary from province to province but in Ontario, fines could reach as high as $25,000 and could result in jail time.


Leave wildlife alone and forget about the selfies

If you spot an animal in the wild and want to take a picture, do so from a safe distance. Do not attempt to touch the animal or pick it up, which can be stressful.

Stress is no small thing to a young deer: In fact, it can kill it.

Wildlife officials consider touching a wild animal harassment, leading to steep fines and a possible criminal record.

Unfortunately, some people don't seem to be getting the message. In May, for example, officials at Yellowstone National Park had to euthanize a baby bison after a pair of Canadian tourists put the animal in their car and brought it to a park ranger, fearing it was cold.

Officials tried numerous times to re-integrate the kidnapped bison back into the pack, but it was rejected by the herd.

Then, a couple of weeks later, a woman in Eastlake, OH, was under the spotlight for bringing a baby deer to a local police department because she thought it had been abandoned, a classic case of 'fawn napping.'

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Source: Global


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