Fish & Game: Leave wildlife alone

CONCORD – The majority of deer fawns are born in New Hampshire in May and June. Each spring, many New Hampshire residents see fawns by themselves and fear the worst.

Has the mother died? Has she abandoned her fawn? The answer in most cases is no. The doe is likely not far off, waiting to return to feed her newborn.

Adult deer can be easily detected by predators because of their scent and size. Because of this, does will spend long periods away from their fawns to disassociate their scent from them and to keep them safe from predators. For the first month of life, the doe will only visit the fawn a few times a day to nurse quickly before leaving again, although usually not going too far.

Unfortunately, well-intentioned, but misguided, individuals see fawns alone, assume they’re abandoned and take them in to "help" them. Most of the time, they’re removing the fawn from the care of its mother, who was waiting to return.

The best chance a young wild animal has to survive is in its natural environment under the care of its mother. If you see a fawn or any other young wildlife and suspect it has been abandoned or orphaned, don’t move the animal. Contact the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department at or 271-2461 and make a report.

Fish and Game staff can assess the situation and help determine the best course of action. In most cases, it is best to leave the fawn alone and allow time for the mother to return to move it to a different location.

Never take in wildlife. Only qualified people with rehabilitator permits issued through Fish and Game may take in and care for injured or orphaned wildlife. Improper care of injured or orphaned wildlife often leads to their sickness or death.

For example, deer fawns that have been fed cow’s milk will develop severe diarrhea (scours). Every year, the state’s only licensed fawn rehabilitator has several fawns die from scours because they have been improperly fed or cared for by the public.

Unless you have rehabilitator credentials, it is illegal to have in your possession or to take New Hampshire wildlife from the wild and keep it in captivity.

For a list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators, visit

Remember that the best way to help young wildlife is by keeping them wild. For more information, visit

New Hampshire Fish and Game Department