White-tailed Deer #24-1349

May 14, 2024
Rescue Location
Augusta County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Suspected orphan
Current Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated

On May 14, a private citizen was driving down a road in Augusta County when they suddenly saw something strange ahead of them: a White-tailed Deer fawn lying on the road. They immediately pulled over to check on the fawn and noted that she appeared weak; concerned that the fawn was orphaned, they brought her to the Wildlife Center for a check-up.

A White-tailed Deer fawn being bottle fed by a Rehabilitation Supervisor Alex.

On intake, the fawn was lethargic and minimally responsive to handling by the veterinary team. A physical exam revealed her to be dehydrated, in thin body condition, and unable to stand on her own. Additionally, bloodwork showed that the fawn was hypoproteinemic, meaning that she had lower-than-normal levels of protein in her blood, supporting the suspicion of her being orphaned. The vet team immediately administered electrolytes, minerals, and fluids, and the rehabilitation staff addressed the challenge of feeding.

The fawn was resistant to nursing at first and exhibited a poor suckle reflex, but after some encouragement and the rehabilitation staff's determination, the fawn finally latched onto a bottle on her second day at the Center. After her first meal, she even began walking! In the following days, rehabilitation staff noted the fawn's surprisingly quick improvement in her energy levels and feeding. However, the fawn's prognosis is still guarded due to multiple factors, including the high risk of capture myopathy or other stress-related conditions with this species in captivity, as well as habituation to humans..

While this fawn did need our care, it is important to note that the majority of fawns that are found alone are not in need of help. Mother deer leave their fawns alone most of the day to avoid leading predators to the fawn's location; if you find a fawn alone, it is likely just waiting for its mom to return.

There are several signs that indicate a fawn is truly orphaned, including diarrhea around the rear end, the presence of insects, or in this case, lethargy. But as a best practice, always call a wildlife rehabilitator before bringing a fawn in for help. That will prevent unintentional "fawn-nappings."

Due to the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), it is also important to know that there are increasing geographical limitations to the rehabilitation of White-tailed Deer fawns in Virginia. For a full list of the current CWD Disease Management Areas, where the rehabilitation or removal of fawns is not permitted, as well as information on how to assess if a fawn needs help, visit our help and advice page

You can help support our work with native wildlife.

Your donation will help provide care to this orphaned White-tailed Deer fawn and approximately 4,000 other patients that the Wildlife Center will help this year.