Deer in South Jersey: Look, Leave Alone, and Move On
The high pitched bleating was pitiful, desperate and urgent, and although with a flash memory to Jody Baxter in The Yearling, it was decided take a quick photo and then leave the tiny fawn where it was and move on down the river focusing on rainbows instead of
It didn’t look, or sound, promising.
“Man, that was tough to do. Did you see how little and skinny that fawn was? It looked wobbly like it was going to fall over. Sounded like it was crying! Wonder if that was its mom up on the road,” said Capt. Scott Newhall from Timeout Charters in Absecon who
was enjoying a mid-May day on a trout stocked Warren County flow in between the craziness of the striper run bookings and the impending fluke season schedule.
Earlier that morning on the way to the fishing spot, and not far from where we were thigh deep and the road paralleled the river, what remained of a deer lay squashed, squished and otherwise spread for a dozen or so yards. The head, intact and straddling the double yellow line, was the identifier. A doe.
A half dozen turkey vultures looked annoyed and hopped roadside as we slowly rolled past observing the loser of the deer-meets-moving vehicle impact.
The mama? Could have been, but there was no way to tell as the area was rife with deer and does with fawns were numerous.
Fast forward a trio of days, and returning to the same spot and doing some searching, I realized the fawn was nowhere to be seen. Had its dam, who could have been a short distance away and feeding in a temporary absence when we first observed, and heard it, returned and now both had moved on?
Or did the it fall prey to a coyote or bear, both prevalent in the area? A scattering of white deer hair on the trail could have been a result of passing through the thorn festooned cover.
Maybe, but then again, maybe not.
Tough sledding, for sure.
To be sure, the urge to help a fawn that appears alone and, in the above case, stressed, tugs at the heart like the pull of an 18-wheeler going downhill. No matter how many times one has read about the lil’ critter not being abandoned or orphaned, that its mother is likely in the vicinity, it’s tough not to want to scoop it up and bring to a certified wildlife rehab expert, or a zoo, or to the nearest Division of Fish & Wildlife Office or, in a monster no-no, taking it home to raise. Huge fine for that one!
Resist the urge. Look, leave alone, and move on.
And this is super apropos if you see a cuddly bear club up a tree. Color yourself red otherwise.
“Leave the fawns, and other wildlife young for that matter, alone when you encounter it,” advises NJ Bureau of Wildlife Management chief Carole Stanko, adding, “chances are the mother is close by and all will be fine. There are those instances when the fawn will be abandoned or orphaned, but these are wild creatures and Nature has to take its course.” Sounds heartless, but so be it. Nature is about the species, not the individual.