White-tailed Fawn (by The Ecology)
While out with my friend doing field work, we encountered this very young white-tailed fawn (Odocoileus virginainus; video by him, not me). Young fawns are left in a hiding spot by their mother, where they remain motionless, while their mother forages. They are not abandoned, or orphaned, it’s just what they do when the fawns are too young to keep up with their mothers. Seeing this little guy suddenly pop out of brush right in front of us, on its own, with no mother around was slightly odd. We approached to take a closer look and it ran, and we suddenly became aware of why it was no longer in it’s hiding spot; a person was yelling to recall their large dog who was wandering in the brush patch the fawn had popped out of.
At this point, with so many humans and the dog around, the fawn was running further and further from its initial hiding spot, that it fled. I figured mom-deer would probably be a bit upset to not find her fawn near where she had left it, so we corralled it back into the patch of brush that it had initially popped out of (the dog now gone), and it laid back down, motionless, just like its instincts told it to do.
The deer in our area are a major problem. Their only effective predator at this point are humans. The coyotes aren’t good enough to really keep population numbers in check. Hopefully that will change as coyotes get bigger and better at taking deer, but until then, deer are posing major ecological concerns with over-foraging, which is affecting plant populations and the wildlife that rely on the now-nearly-nonexistent forest understory. However, you can’t get faced with a fawn and not want to see it or help it.
Did we “save” this fawn? I wouldn’t think so. I imagine a fawn, scared up by a predator, that managed to get away, would have a means (bleating, likely) to be reunited with its mother after finding a new hiding spot. But it felt nice to at least “help” a little. It was an interesting encounter at the very least, and a chance to see an adorable baby mammal up close.