I hate to throw water on a feel-good story, but I have to say it.
Last week a young fawn was rescued in Smith County after being hit by a car.
It shouldn’t have been. Nature should have been allowed to take its course.
I know, that sounds cruel because spotted fawns are cute.
For the opposite reason, no one would stop and rescue an injured skunk.
Last year Texas Parks and Wildlife Department estimated there were 3.3 million white-tailed deer in Texas. Truthfully, that is more than the state can successfully house. Not all of them are supposed to live.
This is the time of year that so-called orphan fawns begin to show up around the state.
Poteet explained that young does typically have a single fawn the first time, and twins thereafter. Fawns are able to walk immediately and the spots are a form of camouflage to protect it from coyotes and bobcats.
Does will nurse their fawns several times a day, but between nursing, the doe will be searching for its own food.
“Outside of these nursing sessions the doe often hides newborn fawns in cover and leaves them alone. This is generally when folks discover fawns and assume that they have been abandoned, which is usually not the case. The doe has simply hid the fawn and will return,” Poteet said.
In the real world fawn survival is dependent on a lot of factors, with the most important being range conditions that supply nutrition to both the doe and fawn. In extremely bad times like last summer the survival rate may be non-existent. In areas where deer numbers are down and the habitat is in good shape, the survival rate may be 80 percent.
Poteet said fawns, which lose their spots when they molt early in the fall, can sustain themselves when only a couple of months old.
“A fawn’s stomach becomes fully functional at about 2 months of age and therefore most are capable of being weaned shortly thereafter.
Fawns tend to remain with the doe after weaning. A fawn’s diet would be similar to the adults, and would consist primarily of forbs and woody browse,” he said.
“This was a positive outcome for an injured whitetail fawn, but some have drawn the sentiment that it is proper and lawful to remove a whitetail fawn from the wild,” said TPWD Game Warden Capt. Quint Balkcom of Tyler. “Removal or transport of a whitetail deer or any other game animal, migratory bird, game bird, or other protected species is unlawful unless it is at the direction of a game warden.”
Balkcom said wardens in the area stay busy with young fawns this time of year.
“We often see an increased desire to pick up abandoned fawns in late spring and early summer. In the eight-county district that I supervise, I estimate that we receive about 200 or more calls involving orphan deer. We use varying degrees of response or enforcement action, which depends solely on the details of each situation, asset availability and other calls that may have priority,” Balkcom said.
However, this is a job best left to the professionals.
“It is a violation of the law to be in possession of a whitetail deer without a permit. If someone finds an injured deer please contact a game warden and we will make a decision on the response needed,” he said.
Truthfully, it is something best left to Mother Nature. Deer are wild animals and should remain that way. Yes there is a certain cruelty to driving away and letting a wounded animal die. And yes, you can call it survival of the fittest or whatever, but that is truly what is best.
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