PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The National Park Service is asking summer park visitors not to touch any seemingly unattended baby deer no matter how cute they may be.
While fawns can sometimes appear abandoned, the NPS says, the mother doe is likely foraging nearby.
“Please do not approach or touch these fawns, they are very likely not abandoned,” the NPS wrote on Crater Lake National Park’s Facebook Page. Their mother has temporarily left her offspring, probably to find food, but will return. Let them be, and mother and child will soon be reunited.”
Baby deer are often found along the roadside following winters with heavy snowpack — similar to the snowpack accumulated in Oregon and around much of the western U.S. this year. While it may be tempting to approach these roadside critters, the NPS is asking the public to keep a safe distance from the local wildlife.
“Kindly, do not touch!” the NPS said. “It is at this time of year that does may give birth and temporarily leave their newborns on the side of the road on warm pavement, especially in high-snowpack years.”
According to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), female deer hide newborn fawns and move some distance away to feed to avoid drawing predators to their offspring.
“Though it seems that they are vulnerable, these young fawns are not totally helpless. Their spotted pelts look like dappled sunlight on the forest floor and offer great camouflage. They do not have strong scent that would attract predators. Fawns are also programmed to keep totally still and quiet when hiding while their mother forages,” the NWF says.
If you do approach or touch a baby fawn, you risk leaving your scent on it, something that could lead predators to the baby, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says. You could also spook it into running away, and it won’t be there when the mother returns.
There are rare cases when it is OK to help a fawn, according to the NWF. “If you notice that a fawn is clearly injured or that it is near a dead adult doe, then it is acceptable to seek help. Start by calling your local animal control department or nature center, who can either take the animal or help locate a licensed wildlife rehabilitator who can.”