With the weather finally turning colder many people feel compelled to ‘help out’ waterfowl by bringing them left over bread, chips and other such ‘treats’.
In larger quantities bread can actually be very harmful to waterfowl. Bread (particularly white bread) is high in carbohydrates, but devoid of any other useful nutrient required by ducks and geese.
Ducks and geese naturally have a varied diet including food sources such as aquatic plants, seeds, grasses and insects, but if large quantities of bread are available they will soon succumb and become obese junk food-junkies.
They will also start to suffer from the effects of malnourishment. In both ducks and geese a condition called Angel Wings can be caused by too much bread consumption. Angel Wings will usually render the sufferer flightless for the rest of its life and long-term malnourishment will cause death.
Often people will go to roughly the same area to feed bread to ducks and geese. This will attract large numbers of ducks and geese to these areas causing them to become over populated and in turn causing large deposit of feces both in the water and on land. These feces combined with left over bread (not consumed by the ducks) can cause excessive algae growth in the water as well as bad smell (particularly in the summer). Poor water quality will have an impact on the overall health of the waterfowl as well as the availability of their natural food sources.
Habituation and altered natural behaviors have been observed in some wild waterfowl as a result of habitually being fed by humans. Habituation of wildlife to humans is never a good thing and should never be encouraged.
Ducks and geese rarely need our assistance by way of food. During lengthy extreme cold spells it might be helpful to supplement dabbling ducks such as mallards and also maybe geese or swans with some extra food in the form of cracked corn or duck pellets, but that is not a common occurrence or necessity.
As an alternative to duck feeding I would highly recommend taking your children to a variety of areas where you might sight waterfowl. Pack a bird identification book and binoculars and try to identify the waterfowl you see. This is a great way to enjoy time with your children while learning something.
We are so lucky to have such an abundance of amazing waterfowl migrating through this area and if you look a little closer you will be amazed too.
We have 8 species of bats in Ontario. Some are migratory and some are true hibernators. The hibernators slow down their metabolism and heart rate as they huddle together as a colony to survive the colder months.
Each winter we get many calls from people who have bats flying around their home during the colder months. This is of great concern to us.
There is a variety of issues that can cause a bat to awaken from hibernation to early. It could simply be a matter of a serious temperature change or often home renovations will disturb a colony, but rabies will also awaken a bat.
Most commonly we find Big Brown Bats in people’s homes and occasionally Little Brown Bats. The Little Brown Bat is listed as ‘endangered’ on the Species at Risk Ontario list. This means that it is protected both under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act as well as the Endangered Species Act.
It also means that we need to try and protect and save as many as we can. Our general bat population is rapidly declining mostly due to habitat loss, a fungal disease called White Nose Bat Syndrome and some man made challenges we have put in their way.
The problem with bats flying free in a house during hibernation time is that we don’t always know why they are awake and so rabies is always on our mind. Rabies is rare in Ontario, but it is still an option.
Rabies is most often transmitted through saliva and because of that we consider a bat bite a serious incident. Rabies is almost always lethal once contracted, but we do have both pre and post exposure shots available for humans. I and some people like me have been vaccinated for rabies and this reduces the risk of me contracting it.
You should also make sure that your pets are up to date on their vaccines. Rabies is a disease all cats and dogs should be vaccinated for.
A bat bite itself is barely noticeable in a human. It is the equivalent of getting pricked with a needle. Something you will notice when you are awake, but you might not notice it when you are sleeping.
The rule of thumb is that all bats found flying in a room where people sleep should be send for rabies testing. To test for rabies the bats brain needs to be examined, so this can only be done after the bat has been euthanized.
If you feel you have been potentially exposed to a bat with rabies please contact your local health unit.
When there has been no humans sleeping in the room the bat is found and no human exposure to saliva (make sure to check your small children for potential bites) we ask that you contact us or a wildlife center near you.
Every winter at Hobbitstee as well as other rehab facilities throughout Ontario hundreds of bats get safely over wintered and released back to their colonies in the spring.
Bats are very small, but should never be handled without gloves. Better yet, don’t touch them at all. They can usually easily be captured by placing a tupperware type container over top of them and sliding the lid (with small air holes) underneath. If possible give them a piece of paper towel in the tupperware container for them to hide in.
If the bat is in flight and needs to be captured you can do this by way of holding a towel up and have the bat fly into it (make sure you are wearing gloves). You can than pop the towel in a container with air holes.
Bats can fit through tiny cracks, so keep that in mind when you are trying to contain one.
If you capture a bat in your house during the winter months, please contact a wildlife center near you and don’t throw it outdoors where it will surely die from exposure and dehydration.
If you are in doubt about what to do feel free to contact us anytime.
If you want to help and are handy, we are always in need of more bat houses. All of our bats are released back where they where found with a bat house.
During the fall and early winter of each year I receive countless call from people who ask me to ‘wild up’ wildlife.
Usually when I get this request it involves wildlife that was kept as a pet or pet-like conditions. Wildlife that might have been found orphaned or perceived orphaned in the spring and kept/raised by the finder for the summer, but as it get’s colder and the orphans grow bigger people often are at a loss about what to do next.
I understand people’s need to help and nurture, but there is a huge difference between keeping baby wildlife alive and raising them. Most species of baby wildlife require specie specific care and nutrition to grow up healthy and wild. This you cannot find on Google or learn from a YouTube video.
I just had a young raccoon brought out by animal services. This raccoon was found in a residential neighborhood, approaching people for attention/food. He was clearly hand raised and released. He has no idea how to fend for himself. Human hands have always provided him with food…Luckily in the case of raccoons they usually revert to being wild enough for release after some time in a controlled environment where they can learn to find their own food without having to rely on people etc.
However, many species of wildlife imprint or habituate to humans permanently and will be rendered un-releasable as a result. It is very sad to see waterfowl who are afraid of water, or fawns who freak out when they see another fawn or deer to name a couple of examples.
Every year I get confronted with countless animals that need to be ‘re-programmed’ so that they can maybe someday be released back into the wild. We try to help when we can and educate the people involved to prevent future issues.
It is a violation under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act to keep wildlife in your possession for more than 48 hours without a special permit and it is not in the best interest of the wildlife.
Do the right thing and contact your local wildlife custodian or local humane society as soon as possible when you find wildlife in need of help, and not after the novelty of having a wild animal has worn off.
We where recently contacted by a Humane Society in Ontario inquiring if we where able to take a Mink. I consented and that is how Charlie the little mink arrived at Hobbitstee.
Charlie’s story is unusual and sad in a way. Charlie is a juvenile mink who was released from a mink farm by animal rights activist. Due to disease risks (because he had actually left the farm) the farmer would not take Charlie back, so I agreed to give Charlie a home. This was an unusual decision on my part as we do not deal with domestic animals, but mink are considered native wildlife and so I agreed to give it a try. I did however state that I would only keep Charlie if his new life did not cause him to much stress.
Luckily Charlie is adapting fine and is showing stress free behavior. He is eating well and loves to play in his new enclosure. Plans are underway to build an enclosure with a build in swimming pool because mink are considered to be semi-aquatic. We will work with Charlie so that he will hopefully be able to serve as an Animal Ambassador for Hobbitstee and join us out and about when we do educational events. Charlie can help educate people about Mink and others in the weasel family and he will serve as a reminder as to why we as humans really need to think through our actions and the consequences of these actions.
Charlie was lucky, but many of the released mink will not be so lucky…
Mink are a native species of wildlife in Ontario, but are also kept in domestic settings for the production of fur coats. Setting personal feelings about the fur farming industry aside I will go out on a limb and speak out strongly against what these animal rights activists have done. These types of actions can potentially have devastating effects on our natural wildlife and cause harm to the animals directly involved.
By releasing hundreds of non-native mink amongst the native population of mink and other wildlife the natural balance gets upset. Mink are fierce little predators and there is only so much prey to go around. Habitat space can also become an issue. Never mind the chances of potential disease transfer or the introduction of non-native genetic strains into our wild population.
Aside from that the farmed mink have been bred in captivity for generation after generation. In doing so they have been domesticated. They have had their meals served in bowls their whole lives and for many generations. Many of the mink after having been ‘released’ simply returned to their cages when feeding time came around.
Not all of them did, some got run over on the road, some got eaten by predators and many will have starved to death by now because they do not know how to catch live prey like their wild counter parts.
I can not call this act by these animal rights activist anything other than cruelty to animals. The released mink who starved to death will certainly agree with me.
I have experience with handling wild mink and they are ferocious creatures who are very difficult to handle. Charlie is fond of having his belly rubbed and he will beg for every person who comes near him to do so. Not exactly behavior I have ever seen in wild mink. This is further to prove my point that farmed mink are domesticated.
Non of this is taking into account the hardship this caused to the farmer and his family who suffered serious financial losses as a result of these actions.
I understand that people might not agree with fur-farming, but you can only make a fundamental changes by educating the public about the ‘plight’ of these fur-farmed animals.
When there is no demand for the product, production will seize.
With the summer heat setting in we are all looking for a cool treat or drink. Iced coffee’s/caps, flurries, blizzard treats and such are favored by many, and all these have one thing in common…That little plastic lid with the big hole in it.
Those lids are turning out to be a huge challenge for our scavenging wildlife. Their heads will go in the cups, but when they pull out their heads they find these plastic lids stuck around their neck.
I am not exaggerating. It is a common occurrence and it can cause some serious issues. I have on many occasions been busy live trapping animals in such a predicament. The variety of wildlife that find themselves adorned with an ice cap necklace is surprising. It ranges from raccoons, skunks to opossums and even a squirrel who had one wrapped around his belly. Those lids are right up there with balloons, 6 pack plastic rings, fishing line and fishing lures for causing harm to wildlife.
As people we often do things such as release balloons to celebrate something. The balloons will return to the earth eventually and many cause harm to wildlife when they are ingested.
slightly of topic, but another issue I have is with the releasing of doves to celebrate weddings and such. I often get calls about sad looking white doves that are not doing well. That is what happens with those doves. They are domestic birds, raised in a domestic environment and they have no idea how to survive in the wild and they don’t belong in the wild. They are not a native species.
Those things are bad enough, but worse yet are the occurrences when someone does something seemingly innocuous like dumping some left over diesel/gasoline fuel down a catch basin. The dumped fuel proceeds to travel into a nearby creek and eventually ends up in one of our Great Lakes.
At Hobbitstee we have an oil rescue team on standby at all times and we have seen first hand the devastation these types of easily prevented spills causes in waterfowl and semi-aquatic mammals. It is heartbreaking to watch majestic swans succumb to respiratory issues as a result from inhaling fuel fumes or struggle to clean oiled geese or ducks.
I respectfully ask that as we enjoy the great outdoors this summer that we take care with our garbage. Garbage belongs in garbage cans. Garbage cans that need to be wildlife proof. Let’s dispose of dangerous goods the right way and not by polluting our creeks and lakes. And those balloons released at weddings or to send messages to loved ones in heaven can cause wildlife to suffer or die upon returning to the earth, so let’s come up with some better less polluting ways of conveying our joy or sadness.
I suggest and encourage the planting of native species of trees and/or plants to commemorate events and to remember loved ones who have passed.
Mid April I received a call from a concerned man who had a fox den underneath his deck. He was concerned because he had seen the vixen move 4 kits and he had not seen her since, but he could still hear kits underneath the deck.
I asked him to make sure not to be the disturbing factor that would scare of the vixen, but to very carefully keep an eye out for her. I also told him that as long as the kits stay in the den they are okay, but if they start coming out of the den as young as they where at that time there is a problem.
We kept in touch over the phone over the next two days until he called me and told me they where starting to come out of the den. I drove down immediately to go and have a look.
I am passionate about not making orphans where there aren’t any and sometimes mother animals are simply not seen when they go and spent time with their babies.
In this case the kits proved to be true orphans because they where weak, lethargic and dehydrated when I arrived. I retrieved 5 fox kits and brought them back home to Hobbitstee.
They where still pretty tiny and underweight. For the first while they received intensive care and stayed under neath their heat light. Handling with foxes is always at an absolute minimum because they are easily habituated to humans and that will get them killed as adults.
One did not recover from it’s dehydrated state and passed away, but the other 4 grew fast as they ate me out of house and home.
About a month after arriving we moved them to our outside enclosure. After this move the care was reduced to hands off only. That means that feeding was done while they slept (when possible) and all though I would catch the occasional glimpse of them playing and running around, they did not see much of me.
We needed to give them the opportunity to learn how to hunt their own meals and so we started introducing live mice into their enclosure. Mice are a staple in any wild fox diet.
Last Saturday it was finally time for these guys to return to an undisclosed location close to their point of origin.
The release went well and the location was perfect.
Often people ask me why I do what I do…This is why. I love the moments where I can release these animals back into their habitat knowing they have all the skills they need to survive. To me it feels like a job well done. It balances out the often brutal nature of wildlife rehabilation and it softens the sadness, frustration and heart aches that come with the job.
We now set our sites on raising the money to expand the fox enclosure so that we can do an even better job next year. We welcome all donations…(see our website at: http://www.hobbitstee.com to contribute)
All of us at Hobbitstee wish our 4 fox kits a happy life!
Last weekend I decided to combine business and pleasure. Two of the turtles at Hobbitstee where ready for release. One needed to be returned to Mildmay and the other to Tobemory.
We decided to combine business and pleasure and planned a weekend away so that we could enjoy the two gorgeous National Parks located near Tobemory. I rarely have time to do things like this, so I was very excited.
The first turtle release was amazing. That turtle had been at Hobbitstee since September of 2014 and he was in really bad shape when he arrived. He had returned to murky water after having been injured and he had a raging infection. I spent months battling this infection and it took everything and the kitchen sink to safe his life, but he made it and I released him back into the waters of his home.
The second turtle’s injuries where less serious, but it was still delightful to release her into a very nice wetland really close to the GSP coordinates given to me by the finder.
With both turtles released it was time for us to have some fun. Finding a campsite proved to be a bit of a challenge, but we managed. The next morning we started on the list of things we wanted to see and do. High on my list was Singing Sands because I had hopes of seeing a real life EMR. As the only venomous snake in Ontario they are really rare and an endangered species, but there is a somewhat healthy population on the Bruce Peninsula. My hopes where squashed rather quickly.
As soon as we arrived at Singing Sands I was horror struck. The tiny parking lot was milling with way to many people who all where trying to pile on a tiny stretch of beach and in the process they where actively trampling all the gorgeous orchids and other sensitive plant that grow there.
We walked down the boardwalk conveniently put there so you can enjoy the wetlands opposite the beach. Although I enjoyed seeing the unique flora and fauna I was once again disgusted with peoples behavior. Children left unsupervised where running around through the wetland away from the pathways and boardwalk to chase/catch frogs and in the process obliterating the delicate little orchids that grow there. I bit my tongue for as long as I could, but eventually had to tell the kids to stop doing that.
The throng of humanity present there seemed utterly oblivious of their surroundings. The surroundings that make Bruce National Park so unique. It left me feeling sad. I don’t understand how or why people go there and try their best to destroy what made them come there in the first place. My heart goes out to the Canada Parks staff who have to witness this carnage day after day.
It wasn’t long before I simply could not take it anymore and had to leave. I had to battle utter stupidity to make my way out of the parking lot. We had to forgo the other amazing sights of Tobemory due to the insane # of people waiting for the boats and swarming the hiking trails which really takes the fun out of it for me.
I am sad to say I could not leave Tobemory fast enough…
I write this to remind people to open their eyes and look around. It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, but please enjoy the beauty of nature and try not to be an invasive presence in it. Teach your children to respect their surroundings and observe common sense such as staying on designated pathways so that you are not ruining the experience for the next person to come along or even generations to come.
I am seeing a trend this year. A very scary trend. It has to do with wildlife being kept in captivity. Something that is a violation under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act in Ontario. According to our laws you have 24 hours to get a wild animal help, but somehow the # of calls I get in regards to wildlife in captivity is on the rise.
Often I get told ‘I have seen this on tv, so I know what I am doing’ or ‘I have googled it, so I can do this’. I hope you can see how this does not make any sense. Caring for injured/orphaned wildlife is a delicate job. Many animals require medical care. Often by the time I receive animals people have ‘tried’ to help and the animals are suffering as a direct result of these attempts and some even die.
Also the zoonotic disease factor is often forgotten. No matter how cute the animal, many can carry diseases that can seriously harm humans
A website giving you detailed ‘DIY wildlife rehab’ information is by definition wrong. There is no ‘one guide fits all’ solution for wildlife rehab. It requires skills and years of experience.
A lady called me yesterday asking me to help her splint a broken wing on a gosling so that she could rehabilitate it. I tried to explain that things don’t work that way. That I will gladly care for the gosling and will deal with it’s broken wing, but she can’t keep it. I explained about human imprinting that will prevent this gosling from having a normal goose life etc. She never brought me the gosling…
This is just one of many examples. This animal needs medical care that the veterinarians I work with and myself can provide, but now it will go without and if the poor thing survives it will have bonded with humans instead of it’s own kind and will have no change of ever having a normal life.
I have said it before and will say it again. Having good intentions does not serve as an excuse. Cruelty to animals is cruelty to animals. If your dog gets hit by a car you take it to the vet, but somehow people feel a need to try and ‘fix’ wildlife themselves.
Orphaned wildlife needs to be raised by people who know what they are doing. People who keep the wild nature of the animal in mind and will understand what it needs to survive in the wild. Wildlife belongs in the wild, needs to be left wild. No human/wildlife interaction ever benefits wildlife…it always benefits humans.
I write this because it breaks my heart to see the well intended cruel acts people perpetrate on wildlife claiming to do the right thing. I wish people would use their energy to truly do good for wildlife. Things like protecting habitat, helping turtles safely cross a road or planting native plants and trees that benefit wildlife etc.
When people see images, videos or real life incidents of human habituated wildlife they often smile and think it is cute…I want to cry because it is unnatural behavior for such animals and it hurts me to see it.
I recently had the opportunity to have a discussion with Dr. Don Hoglund (More on Dr. Hoglund), a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and animal trainer extraordinaire. We discussed the battle we both wage on anthropomorphism (giving human thoughts and feelings to animals).
The discussion was related to that we humans have no idea what animals think. We can not read their thoughts. We don’t know if they are happy or sad, all we have to go on is natural behavior. We can in someways measure their health through blood tests etc and as a wildlife rehabilitator and farmer I look for natural behavior to judge how the animal in question is doing and that is all we have to go on.
I can not tell you how many times I have been on the receiving end of an animal in shock or worse and had the person bringing it out tell me it is fine because it is calm and quiet…It appears calm, but that is due to shock, not due to the fact that it is comfortable being cradled by humans.
Wildlife is per definition wild and needs to stay that way. I have made it my mission as an Authorized Wildlife Custodian to speak for the animals who can not speak for themselves. Understand that in that process I might hurt your feelings, this is nothing personal. It is merely an effort on my part to get you (people in general) to see the other side of things.
I am appreciative of every call I get where people ask me advice before they act. I love it when people call and say I just found an injured …(whatever the animal), can you take it. My answer is always yes. It is what we do here at Hobbitstee. It’s what we are good at…We appreciate it when people bring the animals to us. Wildlife rehabilitators receive no funding. Much of the expenses are paid out of pocket by me, so not having to drive helps me financially and saves me time.
In the last couple of days: Thank you lady from Ingersoll who found the turtle and thank you lady who found the itty-bitty baby bat. You are both awesome! Thank you lady who called about the fox kits she was worried about. Thank you for calling before acting!!!!
Every year we have done more and better with our turtle project. Last year we worked with several agencies and where successful in getting turtle crossing signs erected in a sensitive wetland area. We are continuing to work on getting more of these signs erected.
We successfully assisted a variety of injured turtles and we also hatched turtle eggs we recovered from a gravid turtle female killed on the road.
These hatchlings where recently released and in doing so we where able to somewhat reduce the genetic loss of the breeding age female who lost her life on her way to lay her eggs.
With some of the funding we received from Imperial Oil we where able to purchase a new incubator. Turtles mostly lay their eggs during the month of June, so we ask that if you see a recently deceased turtle during the month of June that you collect it for us (please wear gloves) and get it to us asap. We need the whole turtle and the exact location where the turtle was found. The dead turtle needs to be kept at what ever the temp is and should not be refrigerated. We are hoping to recover and hatch as many eggs as possible to help our ailing turtle population.
I know this is asking a lot, but we really need your help with this as we lack the funding, resources and man-power to drive all over to pick up dead turtles.
Keep in mind that we can not and will not touch (and neither should you) actual active nest sites no matter how inconvenient the location of those nests may be. Doing this would be a violation of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act as well as the Endangered Species Act. 7 out of the 8 species of turtles we have in ON are on the Endangered Species List.
As always we also ask you to be on the look out for turtles on the road. They need help crossing, but please don’t risk human lives in doing this. Make sure it is safe for you to pull over and get out of the car. Please cross turtles in the direction they are going and don’t move them to a different location or turn them around. They are purposely going somewhere and disrupting them is not helpful.
If you find an injured turtle we can help. Thanks to some of the Imperial Oil funding we will be able to rehab more turtles this year as we where able to add some much needed housing for larger turtles like Snapping Turtles. Please do not leave an injured turtle by the side of the road and do nothing. Call us, Call he local humane society, animal control or another wildlife facility. Our turtle population is declining and each specimen counts. Never transport a turtle in water (they might drown).
Even if the injuries on the turtle look really bad, please don’t just leave it to die a slow painful death. Turtles are able to recover from some really serious injuries, but if they can’t they deserve a humane end.
The turtle in the picture below was dropped off at a vet clinic. The vet in question was going to euthanize her because he thought the injuries where to serious. He opted to give us a call and we where able to help her make a full recovery.
Another problem turtles have to deal with is fishing hooks/lines. They get tangled in the discarded line and some of the larger turtles have a habit of swallowing baited hooks. Fishermen, please take your discarded line with you and please don’t just cut your line when you snag a turtle. Research has shown that prevalence of swallowed fishhooks increases with size.
This means that often it is Snapping Turtles who get hooked and in rare cases Spiny Softshell Turtles (only because the species it self is rare). Snapping Turtles are listed as special concern and the Spiny Softshell Turtles as threatened on the endangered species list.
Removing a fishhook from a large Turtle is not an easy thing, but I would still urge you not to simply cut your line as that could mean a long and slow death sentence for the turtle.
Luckily the fisherman who caught the Spiny Softshell in the picture knew what to do and she was helped by Dr. Sweetman from the Downtown Vet Clinic in Windsor. He surgically removed the hook and she made a full recovery.
If the hook is swallowed and you are willing to take a change you can get the Turtle to bite down on a stick and use curved pliers to remove the hook by bending it back the same way it went in, but keep in mind that a Turtle neck can stretch a long way and that a bite can result in a serious injury.
The best way to hold a Snapping turtle is with one hand under its carapace (bottom shell) and using the tail to stabilize the turtle. Never pick a Snapping Turtle up by it’s tail as this can actually cause spinal injuries and causes a great deal of pain to the turtle.
If you need to transport a turtle a good size plastic tote or other type of box will do. Never transport a turtle in water (they may drown), make sure that there is air holes and that the turtle can’t tip the box or push the lid of.
If you can’t get the hook out because it is to deeply embedded or the turtle is uncooperative never hesitate to contact an Authorized Wildlife Custodian near you. We have the skills, tools and resources to deal with cases like this.
And lastly..we need funds to expand our turtle project. $350 buys us another incubator (and yes we need a couple more), $500 buys a Snapping Turtle Enclosure and $100 buys an enclosure for a smaller turtle. These are all things we will use for many years to come. $1000 buys the medication to take care of one injured Snapping Turtle, $45 buys and x-ray, $10 will feed a turtle for a day, so as you can see all donations count. In return for your donations we will send you a tax receipt and you will have the satisfaction in knowing you made a difference.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us. email@example.com or 519 587 2980
Because the majority of the fawns we cared for last year where not actually orphaned or injured, but fawn-napped by people. I am on a mission to better educate people so that they understand the natural behavior of these animals and as a result reduce the number of fawns who get mistakenly end up in care.
First and foremost like with many other species of wildlife babies, just because you see a fawn by itself does not make it an orphan. Mother deer leave their babies hidden when they go off and eat. They return 2-3 times daily to feed the fawns.
I will give you that deer are not always smart about where they hide their babies, but as it stands the vast majority of fawns that come into rehab have no business being here but where kidnapped by humans.
Kidnapping is of course not always the case: I applaud the gentleman who jumped into the Nith River last year to save a fawn that had a foot stuck and was at risk of being swept away.
Well done sir! And he did the right thing and turned the animal over to an Authorized Wildlife Custodian and this fawn was safe cared for by professionals.
I also applaud the Brampton Humane Society who brought out a fawn that was found next to its dead mother last year. Job well done!
Both these fawns needed to be here and where successfully released.
Last year I had a call from a long ways away from here from someone who had found a fawn that she felt was in very bad shape because it was just laying there. I had my suspicions and because it was so far away I could not go out there and have a look. I made a call to an awesome vet I know in the area who readily agreed to drive out and go and see that fawn (free of charge). He called me back later and said the fawn was fine and not in trouble at all. He is ensuring the fawn was returned to where it was found and reunited with its mother.
In my experience the problem is that people generally do not understand the animals behavior and use human standards to make judgement calls. Human standards or even pet standards don’t work for wildlife.
The fawn that was just laying there was actually doing what fawns do when they are scared. They will lay flat to the ground and not move and they hope you don’t see them…This is natural behavior and just because you think this fawn looks calm it is not. I can assure you it is scared to death and you might just be inducing a 100% lethal condition called Capture Myopathy in this fawn. Capture Myopathy is on a 2 day delay, so the full effects can’t be seen until much later.
Mother deer will gladly have their babies back and will spent 48-72 hours or so looking for them if they go missing, so unless the fawn is sick or injured I will tell people to go and take it back to where they found it when they call me about a fawn.
Last year there was been an alarming trend with people who have kept the fawn in their possession for a week or more. This is not a good thing as it prevents us from being able to reunite fawn and mother, but it also often results in cases of unintentional cruelty to animals.
Taking care of a fawn is not easy and it requires a lot of knowledge. It is imperative that the fawn does not become habituated to humans or dogs. It might look cute to see a fawn play with a dog, but imagine what a strange dog might do to the fawn/deer. Human habituation in it self is also detrimental. Fawns who are raised by humans without con-specific interaction will grow up with an identity crisis. These animals do not realize they are actually deer and will not know to approach other deer or how to live in a normal herd of deer. An example of a human habituated deer story
This might look really cute, but is in fact really sad behavior. The animal in that story has no chance at surviving as a result of his human habituation.
Fawns also need to be fed properly. Store bought goats milk will do in a pinch, but is not a long term solution.
So if you do see a fawn and it does not look emaciated or dehydrated (a dehydrated fawn often has curled up ears) or it doesn’t appear injured please just cherish the moment and move on to let the mother deer return and take care of her baby. If you are in doubt, do not hesitate to contact us or another rehab facility before you take the fawn home.
If you can’t reach a rehabber, a vet, MNR office or your local humane society/SPCA can also assist.
For those of you who are currently in the possession of a fawn or other wildlife note that you are breaking the law and that you are not doing the animal any favors. Please do the right thing and turn the animal over to any of the above mentioned places. What you are doing is not in the animals best interest…