It’s Lindsay’s fault. We have a herd!
We were all thinking it, but nobody else said it. Then Monday morning Lindsay said “Hey, we’ve been lucky. We haven’t had any baby deer in this year, isn’t that odd?”
“You jinxed us.”
“Now we will have a herd!”
There is no daycare in the wild.
It is spring and the world brings forth young at the time when there are plenty of plants, insects and/or prey to feed them. Unfortunately, in the wild, not all mothers survive and there is not an adoption system in place for the young.
This means it is peak season for wildlife rehabilitation.
Orphaned wildlife often finds its way to us or other licensed rehabilitations. Orphans need help until they can be on their own. By the way, the definition of an orphan is the animal (or the child) has lost their parents.
This is not the story for most of the wildlife calls we receive and even some of the wildlife itself that comes in.
Baby birds do not just have all their feathers and fly the first attempt. They are like teenagers and want the car, but don’t have the gas money to go very far. These birds are called branchers and will hop from branch to branch, practicing flight, but cannot actually fly. These branchers are often found on the ground. The best thing to do is make a nest; a margarine tub with holes punched in the bottom is good. It is a myth that bird parents will abandon their young after people have handled them. In fact, most birds cannot smell very well at all.
Baby bunnies and fawns are left alone by their mothers for 12 to 24 hours at a time. In case you were wondering, there is no daycare in the wild. Babies are left, while the mothers eat to make enough milk to feed them. Eastern cottontails, for instance, power nurse their babies a rich milk once a day. Usually, this is about three or four in the morning. (I don’t know about you, but that is not my peak rabbit watching time!)
Even does that go back to their fawns twice a day will not return to them if they think there is danger. A human watching definitely qualifies as danger. Unless they are hurt or threatened, wildlife should be left in the wild. Still, sometimes mom is dead and we can see her, a pack of dogs chase a fawn into a swimming pool or something else that means the young needs to be “saved.” That is part of how we have had no less than nine deer arrive in the past four days.
In 96 hours we took in nine fawns.
All of them have been quite young with the umbilical cord attached. That means they are young enough to not have gotten colostrum that provides maternal antibodies. Some fawns came in weak and malnourished. People want to help, but feeding the wrong diet can cause diarrhea, intestinal bacterial overgrowth and/or mean the fawns die later. Even one feeding can mean death for a neonate. And don’t trust what you read on the internet. Anyone can post anything on the internet. Pet store employees are usually not licensed rehabilitators.
When we say keep them “warm and dry and quiet”, it is because it is the best thing until we know more about why they might need care. Four deer were feed before they came in to see us. Two of those have already died.
Two of the deer had bite wounds and maggots beyond fixing. One was hypothermic to the point of being neurologically impaired. This was caused by the cold late spring and rains that we have been having.
There are four who came in only here because people did not understand the biology of deer. There is no daycare in the wild.
A few years ago, Lindsay took a phone call. A lady was calling to ask for help for the baby deer that was “trapped” under the bushes in her hedge. As we were trying to explain that mom hides them so that she can eat and they can be protected, the lady starts screaming. Thinking that the deer had just been attacked by a pack of dogs, Lindsay finally got out of the lady that it was starting to rain. The lady was freaking out because the fawn was under the bushes and it was about to rain. Nature is not exactly like on the big screen. At least she called and hopefully left it protected in the bushes.
Many times we are able to teach people that there is no daycare in the wild and to leave the fawn for mom to come back to get the baby. For four of the deer, it was too late. By the time they had called us, they had them in their house for a “couple of days”. One was so imprinted that it licked Kristen on the face and neck as she took it back to the nursery. Hopefully being with other deer will help it remember to be a deer again.
Of the nine deer that we have only five really needed to be rescued. Of the four deer that were inappropriately rescued out of the wild, only two are still alive. A fawn that is happy in the wild will be quiet. Only if a fawn is making noise is it even remotely in need of being saved. If they are to be saved give them water but keep them warm and dry and quiet.
We are a licensed rehabilitator, but we receive no funding from either state or federal funds. While we cannot take in all wildlife (and no raccoons, skunks, poisonous snakes or monkeys), we do try to help. We will teach baby bird and rabbit care and take in some others. Raccoons and skunks can carry and transmit rabies without showing any signs. Raccoons also transmit raccoon roundworm that can burrow through the spinal cord and brain of humans and pets. Raccoon distemper is an often fatal, airborne disease transmitted to dogs; something we cannot afford to have in the hospital.
Meanwhile, we have a herd of deer in the hospital. A small, but rapidly growing herd.
Nine deer in 96 hours. Thanks, Lindsay!