Stop Taking Baby Deer From The Wild, Florida Wildlife Officials Say

Oct 8, 2014

Credit Alexandra Fahnlander / WFSU News

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is reminding people not to remove fawns from the wild. The practice is illegal and endangers the life of baby deer.

Theresa Stevenson is an animal rehabilitator at Saint Francis Wildlife Association in Quincy. She says many people bring fawns in. 

"So what we have to do is basically put it back," she says. "We take a lot of time taking healthy fawns back to their moms."

Stevenson explains the well-intentioned move has serious consequences.

"You’re hurting the mom that just lost a baby, and she doesn’t know what happened to it. And you’re hurting the baby because you are feeding it probably the wrong thing," she says. "You are making it get used to people, which is terrible because he’s going to grow up being friendly to people. And on hunting season he’s just going to go right to the person that’s going to shoot it."

Mother deer leave their fawns alone most of the day to keep them safe from predators. A baby deer’s dappled coat and lack of scent keep it well hidden. Stevenson admits it’s easy to want to interact and bond with the animals. They’re adorable. But ultimately it’s the wrong move.

"The only reason to pick up a fawn from the wild is because it’s either injured, obviously hurt, or because it’s found right by the mother's dead body," warns Stevenson. "That’s the only reason why you should try and help a fawn."

That doesn’t mean bringing the fawn into your home, though. That’s illegal. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission suggests concerned citizens should instead call the agency’s Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (888-404-3922). That way, licensed experts, like those at Saint Francis Wildlife Association, can make sure they’re raised to succeed in the wild.