They may be cute, but wildlife experts say leave baby deer alone

MADISON COUNTY, Tenn. — If you happen to see a baby deer that appears to have been abandoned, leave it alone.

State wildlife experts say does frequently leave their fawn alone in the wild this time of year.

“People end up picking these deer up, thinking they are abandoned or something is wrong with them,” Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officer Matt Canada said. “Then they end up trying to take care of this deer.”

Every summer, TWRA officers like Canada are flooded with calls from people who have picked up a baby deer thinking it’s been orphaned.

“It’s always been someone has found a baby deer on the side of the road or out in a field,” he said.

Canada said mother deer will leave their babies for extended periods of time, often to protect them from predators.

In fact, wildlife officers say it’s actually normal for mother doe to leave their newborn deer alone for six to eight hours at a time.

TWRA officer Brian Thompson said the mother deer will come back for their babies but can only do that if they’re in the spot she left them.

“The longer you stay around it, that’s going to keep the mama away,” he said. “She’s got to protect herself first, because if she can’t protect herself, she can’t protect her baby.”

Leaving baby wildlife alone isn’t only a suggestion — it’s the law.

“What happens is we actually will come out and have to seize that animal, and you can be cited to court for that,” Canada said.

Canada said sometimes people even raise the babies as pets.

“They are wild animals, so they can end up hurting you,” he said. “And the deer end up becoming domesticated, and we can’t really rehabilitate those deer.”

So if you see a baby deer in the wild, you can take a picture, but leave it where you found it.

“The best thing is to just leave that deer right where you see it, leave it alone and let it stay there in its natural habitat.”

If you do stumble across what looks like an injured animal, you should call your local animal control office to see what you should do.