Over the Memorial Day weekend, our family was hanging out on the Androscoggin River, when a fawn popped out of the woods and walked right over to us! The baby had never seen humans before and we look like pretty friendly folks. We didn't quite know what to do. Shoo it away? Pet it? Pick it up?  Recently seven people in Virginia dropped off what they thought were abandoned fawns to a Wildlife Center. They actually call it "fawn-napping."

What Should You Do If You Come Upon Young Wildlife in Maine?

Our friends at the Maine Department of Inland, Fisheries and Wildlife have a great motto: If You Care, Leave Them There.


Wildlife is more visible this time of the year and it isn’t unusual for people to come across baby fawns, moose calves, robins, raccoon and other young wildlife in woodlands or in their backyards, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for people to intervene.

“Well-meaning people sometimes take in young wildlife in the mistaken belief that they have been abandoned,” said Commissioner Chandler Woodcock. “But they often put the young animal in more risk. Wild animals and birds do not make good pets, and it’s against the law to possess them without the proper state and federal permits.”


Here are other tips from the DIFW on what to do if you see young wildlife:

Fawns: It is always best to leave fawns alone. The nutrient profile of a mother’s milk enables fawns to be left for many hours as mothers feed on their own to help maintain the high energy demands of nursing the fawn. Adult does will return two or three times a day to nurse fawns but otherwise leave them in a safe place and rely on the fawn’s camouflage and lack of scent to protect them from predators. As soon as a fawn is able to keep up with its mother, it will travel more with the mother.

Repeated visits to a fawn can draw the attention of predators and could discourage its mother from returning. Under no circumstances should anyone attempt to feed a fawn.

Moose calves: Treat moose calves similar to fawns, but also be aware that approaching or handling a moose calf is likely to elicit a defensive response from a mother moose if it is nearby.

Squirrels or Raccoons: If a nest of squirrels or raccoons must be disturbed, (for example if a tree has been cut down or fallen) leave the young in the den part of the tree and move them nearby to a protected place. The mother will in all likelihood come back and transport them to a new location.

Birds: The same is true for a bird’s nest. Put the nest and nestlings into a nearby tree, supported in a basket or other container that has drainage. The mother robin or blue jay is probably right around the corner, and will return to feed the young and care for them until they can fly on their own.

Be aware that direct contact with wildlife can expose you to a variety of diseases. Human contact with wildlife may lead to an animal being euthanized in order to test for rabies.