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Leave Maryland’s Spring Wildlife Wild

Handling Fawns is Usually Unnecessary, Often Dangerous, and Always Illegal

Photo of young fawn in the woods

Photo by Pam Perna

Fawns are a sight to behold. Born helpless in late spring, they rely on their camouflage and virtual lack of odor to help them hide from danger. Fawns instinctively lie motionless when approached by potential predators. This behavioral adaptation has helped white-tailed deer survive for ages.

Despite this effective strategy, curious fawns will sometimes wander around new surroundings and may appear to be lost, distressed, or orphaned. In most cases, the doe is nearby feeding and will return to care for her young when it is safe.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources reminds anyone who encounters a fawn to avoid disturbing it and resist the urge to handle or feed it. For the safety of both humans and wildlife, removing deer from the wild and keeping them in captivity is against the law in Maryland.

“Captivity can lead to malnutrition, injury, and stress for wildlife,” Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto said. “Wildlife may pose human health risks and become dangerous as they mature. Help us keep Maryland’s wildlife wild.”

More information on fawns and how to handle an encounter with them can be found on the department’s website.

Anyone with questions about fawns, or other young wild animals, is encouraged to call the state’s wildlife hotline at 877-463-6497.