The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) cautions anyone who encounters a fawn to avoid disturbing it and resist the urge to feed or handle it. Removing deer from the wild and keeping them in captivity is dangerous, harmful to the animal, and against the law.
Deer are born with specialized adaptations, including a lack of odor that prevents predators from locating them; remarkable camouflage that makes it hard to see them; and “freezing behavior” that allows them to stay absolutely motionless when approached by potential predators.
Despite these effective strategies, inquisitive fawns will sometimes explore new surroundings and may appear to be lost or orphaned. There is usually no need for human intervention as the adult female, or doe, is almost always nearby and will return to nurse the fawn. Humans who remain near the fawn or doe will interfere with this natural process and put themselves at risk of harm and should steer clear for those reasons.
“Even though people may be well-meaning, handling deer or keeping them captive is not only illegal but almost always results in a bad outcome for the animals,” Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto said. “Deer do not suffer the stress of human intervention well and rarely survive being handled. Help us keep Maryland’s wildlife wild, and trust that our deer are well-suited to survive without our assistance.”
More information on fawns can be found on the DNR website.
Anyone with questions about fawns, or other young wild animals, is encouraged to call the state’s wildlife hotline at 877-463-6497.