GREENE COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — Three fawns whose mother was killed in a crash are now in the hands of an animal rehabilitation center, thanked to the work of Virginia state troopers.
According to Virginia State Police, Wednesday morning, a deer was struck and killed in a crash in Greene County.
State Troopers J. Reaves & Trooper D. Randall realized the doe had been a mother to three fawns, which were found nearby, safely recovered, and taken to a nearby animal rehabilitation center.
It's the time of year when white-tailed deer fawns show up in many places – but this was one of few situations in which they actually need to be rescued.
You may see deer fawns in your yard or hayfield and feel like you should help, but in almost all cases, according to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the best way you can help is to give the fawn space and leave it alone.
Every year, district offices across Virginia and West Virginia receive numerous calls about well-meaning people picking up fawns and other young wildlife they believe to be abandoned.
For example, many people mistake a bedded fawn with no mother in sight as abandoned. But these "orphans" that were rescued were not actually abandoned.
It's normal for wild animals, including does, to purposefully leave their offspring alone while searching for food. The separation is a survival tactic for the parent to avoid leading predators, like dogs or coyotes, to the fawn's location.
While the white-spotted fawn lies motionless in vegetation, its coat acts as camouflage against most predators, so young fawns typically won't try to run away when approached, but will rely on that instead.
They're not at much risk where they are. But they become in danger as soon as they're picked up. When humans handle wild animals, they leave behind a scene that may attract a predator. It also can expose humans to parasites, such as ticks, fleas, and lice, and removing a young animal from its natural environment frequently leads to the death of that animal, according to wildlife biologists.
If a fawn is left alone, the doe will typically return several times a day to move or feed their young. It's likely you won't see that all, though, since she only stays to feed the fawn for a few minutes before leaving it alone again.
If less than 24 hours have passed since a fawn was "rescued," it should be taken back and released in the exact same location, with all human presence removed as soon as possible, because the doe won't return if a human, a predator, is nearby.
Rather than choosing to rescue a fawn you think is injured or truly orphaned, you should contact the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' toll-free wildlife conflict helpline at 1-855-571-9003, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., to find a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
You can also look online.
As a reminder, raising a wild animal in captivity is illegal unless you have a DGIF wildlife rehabilitation permit. With even the best professional care possible, the survival rate of rehabilitated fawns and many other animals is very low, so the best advice if you want to help wildlife is to keep it wild.
Once people interfere, we reduce the chance of an animal being able to ever get natural care again.
Much of the same guidance and wildlife biology applies to bear cubs, which are also left alone by their mothers. You can learn more about that here.