Each year we are the only resort several Black-tailed Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) fawns have. Orphaned by trucks, cars, and sometimes dogs, young fawns are brought to Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, our wildlife hospital in Bayside, California. A young fawn, often traumatized by the death of her mother, requires specialized care. Typically, young fawns are uninjured and their health is compromised only to the extent that they have been without maternal care. The sooner we receive orphaned deer, the better their chances for survival.
Convincing a fawn that a bottle of formula can replace his mother is no easy trick. And the danger, of course, as with all wild babies, is that our close contact will habituate the orphan to people, who will come to see people as non-threatening. Again, as with all wild animals, this is a dangerous condition. It is simply a fact that wild animals who do not have a fear of humans and human activity are at much greater risk of being injured and killed by people. So steps are taken to disguise the caregiver and as quickly as possible, help the fawn adapt first to the bottle, and second to a bottle rack. Once fawns makes that leap, we sharply reduce our interactions with them until it is time for them to be released, and they make the leap to freedom.
[Help us help wildlife! Your support is needed to care for fawns, swallows and all our wild neighbors in need! Support our work here, today! Thank you!!!]
Bottles are delivered at scheduled times, gradually increasing in amount as the fawns grow, and then decreasing as we wean them from milk replacer to greens. It takes a lot of leaves to raise a healthy fawn!
From admission at a few days old in May it usually is the end of August or early September before they are old enough to join a herd without a mother of their own. This year we released four fawns. Following are pictures from their care and from their big day of new freedom!
Just admitted. Despondent and still following mom’s instructions: Pretend you’re not there and they wont see you.
In care for a month, the gang of orphans form a indisputable bond.
At least twice a day fresh “greens” are offered. It takes a lot of effort to replicate Mama Deer and Mother Earth!
“The last you’ll see of me!”
For next year we need to greatly expand our available fawn housing. This year we got lucky in the low number of orphaned deer we admitted. In the past we’ve had as many as 14! We’ll be increasing our capacity, but we’ll need your help. Housing that is large enough and protected from predators will take community support to build. As always, we ask you to please help us help our injured and orphaned wild neighbors. You can donate here to support our work, including preparing a better facility for 2018! Thank you!
All photos: Bird Ally X/Laura Corsiglia
Laura Corsiglia set up for the fawn release. (photo by Carol “the Deer Lady” Andersen)