A Surrey wildlife charity is advising members of the public not to pick up a baby deer if they find one while out walking or driving, even if it appears to be injured or abandoned.
Staff at the Leatherhead-based Wildlife Aid Foundation (WAF) have issued a guidance note to the public – “What to do if you find a fawn” – after being called out three times in as many days to rescue fawns that did not need rescuing, and on one occasion having to deal with a fawn suffering from severe stress after having been picked up and cuddled by a member of the public who thought it was in danger.
In all of the recent cases the fawns were fit and healthy, but have ended up being subjected to unnecessary ‘care and attention’ by passing members of the public.
WAF founder and chief executive Simon Cowell MBE said: “We are here to help sick, injured and orphaned wildlife, and we will respond to any emergency calls. But it is frustrating when we get called out unnecessarily, especially at a busy time like this, when we are dealing with hundreds of genuine cases. or when we find that someone has already been ‘caring’ for the animal – and by doing so causing it far more stress than if it had been left alone.”
The charity’s advice is as follows:
If you find a deer fawn, please follow these 3 simple rules:
1. DO NOT TOUCH IT
Unless it’s in immediate danger, such as in the middle of the road, don’t touch it. A mother deer will reject her young if she picks up the human scent.
2. WALK AWAY QUIETLY
99% of the time the mother is very close by. (If you are walking your dog, put it on a lead.)
3. CALL THE EXPERTS
If you are concerned about the fawn’s safety, ring your local wildlife centre.
Simon adds: “Every year hundreds of young deer lose their lives because members of the public find a deer fawn that is on its own and appears to have been abandoned, and then they unwittingly interfere and cause infinitely more damage than if they had left the fawn alone.
“Mother deer leave their young by themselves for long periods during the day and night, this is to prevent the fawn from becoming exhausted as it would if following its mother all day as she browses for food.
So, if you find a young fawn, please walk away from it immediately. Deer are pre-programmed to be terrified of humans. This is what keeps them safe. It is very natural for a baby to be on its own but its mother is always nearby and watching over it.
“If the fawn is crying, it is because it is terrified of you and is calling for its mum, not because it is injured. Remember this is a WILD animal, so sitting and stroking the fawn is not comforting for it, as it would be for a domestic dog. A deer will be terrified in this situation and you are risking its life. The stress could severely damage its heart and even kill the deer, due to a condition that deer suffer from called ‘capture myopathy’, as well as the likelihood of it being rejected by its mother, now that the fawn smells of humans.
“The best thing you can do for this beautiful animal is to walk away as soon as possible and if you do have any worries about its safety, ring WAF. We can be contacted on our 24 hour emergency helpline and are happy to deal with calls from anyone needing help, whether here in Surrey or farther afield. Whatever you do, please resist the urge to interact with these adorable animals. Do the right thing for them and walk away. And, if you have a dog with you, please make sure you keep it on a lead and well away from the fawn.”
The WAF helpline number is 09061 800 132. (Calls are charged at 50p per minute to help with funding the charity.)
Press contacts: Simon Cowell, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: 07836 635269