Find a fawn? Here's what to do

Published: Wednesday, June 11 2014 11:39 a.m. MDT

A fawn snuggles among the leaves as it waits patiently for its mother to return.

Photo Courtesy of Dept. of Wildlife Resources

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SALT LAKE CITY — It is common this time of year to find deer fawns or elk calf, and the best thing for people to do is keep their distance and leave the animal right where they found it.

Ron Stewart, a regional conservation outreach manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources, said deer and elk use several techniques to help their young avoid predators. Because a fawn doesn't have a scent and is camouflaged so well, hiding a fawn for the first few weeks of its life is the best way to protect it from predators.

Most of the animals that prey on fawns have a good sense of smell. But they can see only in black and white.

Stewart said that deer fawns learn to walk soon after they're born. "But they aren't very coordinated," he said, "and they aren't strong enough to run away from predators. So, evolution has added a few safety measures."

"First of all, don't approach it," Stewart said as far as what to do when someone sees a fawn or calf. "Watch it or take a photo of it from a distance, but don't approach it. If you get too close, the scent you leave could draw a predator to the animal."

Finding and petting newly born animals is another problem. "The animal's survival depends on it staying scentless," Stewart said. "If you touch the animal, you've placed your scent on it. That will make it easier for a predator to find it."

More tips about living with wildlife are available at www.wildawareutah.org.

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