Okanagan residents are reminded to leave sleeping deer lie.
Fawning season is underway therefore conservation officers (CO) have had a number of reports of fawns in the area. But COs are reminding residents to avoid ‘rescuing’ fawns and other young ungulates who are mistaken to be orphaned. These interventions do more harm than good.
“Mother deer, elk and other species may leave their young alone for long periods. To avoid attracting predators, a mother may only return a few times a day to nurse,” CO Ken Owens said.
“When she does return, she can be expected to defend her baby from real or perceived threats-including nearby humans and their pets.”
It’s common for young deer to lie quietly in vegetation for hours, especially during the first two weeks of their lives, as they aren’t strong enough to follow their mothers.
“Although these babies may look abandoned, they are not,” Owens said. “However, if humans remove them from their rest spots, they can end up being orphaned.”
Lake Country resident Andrea Howson found a fawn curled up on the rock steps in her backyard May 30. She spotted the mother feeding nearby their Williams Road home and knew to leave the little darling be.
“People ought not to touch or try to rescue baby fawns discovered like this as their mothers usually knows where they are and will come back for them,” said Howson.
That wasn’t the case in Kelowna, when a fawn was found on a sidewalk June 1 in the Royal View Drive area.
”Unfortunately, we had people picking up the fawn, placing water out for the fawn and with an eye dropper putting water on the fawn’s lips,” Owens said.
CO’s moved the fawn to a safe place for its mother to return.
If you spot a fawn quietly resting alone, Owens said keep away from the area and leave it alone.
“Every year, well-meaning people doom deer fawns to an unnatural life in confinement or kill them accidentally by ‘rescuing’ them,’” he said. “It’s dangerous and unnecessary. This is especially a problem in Kelowna, where lots of people and deer coexist.”
The conservation officer service is taking “a hard stance” on the issue in an effort to eliminate it, highlighting the $345 fine one can face for unlawful possession of live wildlife.
“Conservation officers are reminding people that the best thing they can do to ensure a fawn’s survival is to leave the newborn deer fawns alone,” he said.’
– with files from Aaron Hemens, Kelowna Capital News