You found a baby deer

Important facts: please read this entire section before making a decision on what to do.

It is illegal to bring deer across state boundaries so you must find assistance within the state it was found.

Adult deer are very strong animals and can cause severe injury to themselves and those trying to help them.  Therefore if you find an adult deer that is sick or injured call your local game warden or Sheriff's department.

Fawns (babies) that are safe to assist have spots, are not afraid of humans, do not run when approached, are the size of or smaller than a medium sized dog and are found during late spring/summer.  If the fawn does not fit in this category it should be dealt with by your local game warden.  A fawn that runs away from humans should not be chased to be caught; it will cause further injury or possibly death to the fawn.

Deer mate in the fall and have their young between April and July.  Most have 1 baby but can have twins or triplets.  Mother deer leave her babies alone all day and only come back to feed them at dawn and dusk to prevent attracting predators to her young. 

If you find a fawn, check to see if it is injured or dehydrated.  Check it for dehydration by gently pinching the skin on its back. If the skin snaps back to its original position (and it is not injured) then the fawn is fine-leave it alone. If the skin stays in the tented position and the fawn seems lethargic then it is possible that it has not been fed recently.  Attempts should be made to see if the mother has been hit by a car or is incapacitated somewhere around the area.  If the fawn is injured, dehydrated, has fly eggs on it, or if you know for sure that the mother has been killed, you need to rescue the fawn and locate a wildlife rehabilitator or a local wildlife organization.  

If you are in Virginia you can look for a rehabilitator that rehabs deer at or you can call our referral line (at top of page.)  If you are in another state, go online or call your local game warden.

If a fawn is found in a dangerous place:  If the mother did not make a good choice as to where she left her fawn (too close to a road or some other potential danger) the fawn may be picked up and immediately moved several feet away from the danger; try to stay within eyesight of the original location.  Then tap the fawn on the back or on top of the head, like the mom would do, to make it lie down and stay until its mother arrives.  You may check on it the following day (between dawn and dusk.)

Note: a mother deer will continue to look for her baby up to 72 hours, therefore, if you have picked up a fawn that was alone and mistaken for an orphan you have 72 hours to return this fawn as close as possible to where it was found.

 If not injured or dehydrated, leave it alone and remember where you found it.  Do not hang around to see if the mother comes back- she won't if a human is there.  You may go back the next day (not at dawn or dusk) to see if it is still there.  If it is not there, then they have moved on.  If it is still there, check again for dehydration.

You should never attempt to raise a baby deer on your own.  Most hand-raised deer will die; their mother's milk is the best for survival and extremely difficult to mimic in captivity.  Fawns are easily tamed and therefore are not releasable back into the wild.  Cute little fawns grow up to be large deer and can be very dangerous when they are sexually mature.  * Raising a wild mammal in captivity is illegal unless you have a permit issued by the state.*