'Rescues' of fawns in Monterey County lead to deaths

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Photo: SPCA for Monterey Co.

A handful of 'Good Samaritans' have unintentionally taken baby deer away from their mothers this season. 

The misguided, yet well-intentioned "rescues" have resulted in the deaths of several fawns. 

Six of the 11 fawns recently under the care of the SPCA for Monterey County were healthy babies, taken from their mothers unintentionally.

Spokeswoman for the SPCA for Monterey County Beth Brookhouser says while two of the fawns were reunited with their mothers, two are still under care, and two did not survive their encounters with humans. 

Brookhouser says the two fawns that didn't survive were very young. "The most common problems we see when otherwise healthy fawns are 'rescued' - they have a hard time adjusting to formula, being fed the wrong milk by people thinking they are doing the right thing, or not getting enough colostrum from their mother before being separated," she said.  

A team from the SPCA for Monterey County was able to reunite one of the fawns with its mother by going to the general area where it was found. The team drove a rescue vehicle slowly through the area playing the sound of fawn distress calls out the window. "Soon, a very angry doe appeared looking for her baby. We carefully placed the fawn outside the vehicle and mama came to claim him," said Brookhouser.  

The SPCA for Monterey County is warning the public to leave fawns alone. 

Brookhouser tells KTVU mother deer leave their babies hidden and alone if safe areas for most of the day.

They only visit their babies at dawn and dusk. "These fawns are not abandoned; the mother is likely out of sight watching you. If you find a fawn lying quietly in the grass leave it where it is, stay back and out of sight, and keep dogs as far away as possible. The mother will not return if she senses people or dogs are too close," says Brookhouser. 

If you encounter a fawn and are worried it's in distress Brookhouser says to look for the following signs:  

  • Labored breathing
  • Walking and vocalizing for over an hour
  • Blood
  • Clearly broken bones
  • Lying prone on its side (rather than curled or on its stomach)
  • A deceased mother on site

Anyone who encounters a deer they believe is in distress is asked not to touch the animal but to call an animal rescue center. People who find animals in the Monterey County area can call the SPCA Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center immediately at 831-264-5427.