Each year, fawns are discovered by people who mistakenly think the animals have been abandoned or injured, as they will remain curled up and motionless when approached. However, this is normal behavior for a fawn, and, along with their lack of scent, helps them avoid detection by predators. Mother deer (does) feed their young infrequently (up to 8 hours between feedings), but usually remain nearby, either feeding or bedded down.
All of this is to say that fawns should be left alone unless they have suffered an apparent injury. Fawns that have been touched by humans or removed from the wild for a short period will still be fed by the mothers if returned.
Here are some other fawn facts, courtesy of the Massachusetts Dept. of Fisheries & Wildlife:
- Fawns view humans as predators and will drop their heads and freeze to avoid detection.
- Fawns can bleat in a way that sounds like crying if they are disturbed or are trying to locate their mother.
- Fawns are commonly found bedded in brushy areas with vegetative cover or even in some grassy areas in suburban areas close to homes or near roadways. Their mother felt this was a safe place for the fawn. Only if a fawn is in real danger should you interfere by moving it to a nearby forested or shrubby area where there is thick cover. Then leave quickly, so the fawn does not follow, and don’t linger. The mother will not come if you are nearby.
- Young fawns remain bedded, alone for most of the day and night. The mother will return several times to nurse briefly. She will not approach if people are nearby.
- All fawns appear skinny, but it’s not an indication that they are abandoned or starving. If disturbed, they may also look like they are weak or having trouble walking. Never feed a fawn; their stomachs are sensitive, and the food or milk you give them can be very harmful.