By DNR Conservation Warden Curt Butler
One of the coolest parts of my job as a DNR conservation warden occurs when I get to interact with a lot of wildlife – a big reason why I chose this public service career.
In the spring with many different animals being born, I am frequently responding to concerned citizen calls about perceived injured or suspected abandoned wildlife critters. This is particularly true this time of year when it comes to whitetail fawns.
Unfortunately, most of the time when I go to pick up an abandoned fawn from a person who had the best intentions, it turns out the fawn was mistakenly thought to have been abandoned. The reality is the fawn was taken from its mother and while the citizen wanted to help, this act of removing the animal from the mother may mean the opposite.
OBSERVER TIPS: Leave fawns alone – mom is nearby, out of sight
Whitetail fawns will start showing up in the wild around May 1. Fawns can weigh as little as 3 pounds at birth. For the first 2 to 3 weeks after they are born, fawns lack the strength and speed to escape from danger.
During this time, fawns move very little and rely on their spotted, camouflage coat and lack of scent to protect them. The mother further protects her fawn from predators by staying some distance away except when it is time for the fawn to nurse, often just every few hours.
- If you find a fawn lying alone, unless the fawn is sick or injured, leave it alone. Leave the area and do not go near the spot again.
- The mother will not return if people or dogs are present.
- Do not touch the fawn or bring children, dogs or friends to look at it. Doing so could endanger the fawn by giving away its location to a predator, and its mother won’t return to nurse the fawn while people or dogs are nearby.
- REMEMBER, a young wild animal’s best chance for survival is with its mother! If you still have a concern for a fawn or other wild animal, contact your local conservation warden.
New 3-year baiting and feeding deer ban in effect
As of February 1, it became illegal to bait or to feed deer within Lincoln County. This baiting and feeding ban is in effect for 3 years. A common question I have heard recently concerns hail bales and mineral blocks. Both of those are considered deer bait or feed and would be illegal. However, food plots are not considered deer bait or feed and are okay to utilize under the ongoing ban.
From my experience as an avid bow hunter, the food plots are by far the most effective if done right. I encourage people to do research however because many factors can make this challenging.
As always before you go afield, review the regulation pamphlet specific to your activity. For questions that are not found in the regulation pamphlets, contact WDNR call center staff available 7 days a week (7 a.m.-10 p.m.) call toll free 1-888-WDNRINFo (1-888-936-7463). Also, to report WDNR violations call 1-800-TIP-WDNR (1-800-847-9367) 24/7 365 days a year, or contact me at (715) 416-0068.