DuBOIS — Especially this time of year, Pennsylvania residents may be noticing an increase in the number of fawns, whether it’s in their own backyard or within the woods.
Fawns are one of nature’s most endearing, wobbly-legged little animals, covered in spots that help them stay hidden in their habitat.
When they aren’t scurrying behind their mother, people are tempted to rescue or touch a fawn they find astray, but experts urge against that.
Tony Ross, who is a Regional Biologist with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, said it’s a busy time of year for young animals in nature.
Onlookers may assume the fawn is abandoned, but shouldn’t disturb it, Ross said. The babies are taught to go into “hideaway” mode and not to move, at times in strange or unexpected spots. They are usually camouflaged and hard to see.
“We always like to have nature take its course,” Ross said. “Put it right back into nature, let it go and head it in the right direction.”
Many deer-versus-car accidents also are occurring this time of year, since the population is at a high. Local Pennsylvania Department of Transportation workers keep roadside grass areas maintained, so animals aren’t tempted to hide there. Eliminating clover along the roads also is key to keeping deer from feeding too close to the roadway.
“People always like to see a lot of deer — it’s fun seeing them, but when you start seeing a lot, the population is too high,” he said.
Earlier this month, Sandy Township Police Officer Gil Barker came to the rescue of a fawn near South Main Street in DuBois. The baby deer had been separated from its mother and came very close to oncoming traffic, as many often do.
“That little guy got himself in a bad situation,” the officer said. “Given the choice, we prefer not to disturb wildlife, but in this case, it was in danger. That’s why I did what I did.”
Barker said he used techniques he learned throughout his training on how to properly move the fawn to a safe place. The fawn was taken into protective custody and later reunited with its mother.
“This fawn happened to be next to a busy road,” he said. “We want to reunite with its mom, and that’s the best thing to do.”
Beth Geise, who is the secretary of PWHU (Pennsylvania Wildlife Habitat Unlimited) of DuBois, said it is entirely normal for a doe to leave her young, and people shouldn’t panic when that happens. Just passing on a human scent to the fawn can even make them suspect for certain predators, which is why the mother bathes them.
“It’s important to know that it’s customary for mothers to leave the fawns every day,” she said. “Usually in the afternoon, they leave them in a safe spot, so they can go off and feed. They’ll return and they know exactly where they left their babies.”
May and June are among the busiest times for deer, but they are also on the move in the fall, Geise said. People can be more cautious and aware by paying attention to the sides of the roadways while driving, and making sure there are not feeding deer too close to roads.
For more information on how to keep fawns and other wildlife safe, visit www.pgc.pa.gov.