After recently taking in several deer fawns on the same day, a New Mexico wildlife rehabilitation center is warning people about what they may think is the act of “rescuing” animals.
The New Mexico Wildlife Center in Española says now is the time of year when more people are coming face to face with wild animals and sometimes, while well-intentioned, people can make the wrong decision about wild animal care.
Monday, the center accepted two males and one female mule deer fawns. Staff believes one fawn was likely mistakenly thought to be abandoned and taken from its mother.
“Right now, it’s a lot of hands-on care,” said Hilary Devries, the wildlife rehabilitator for the New Mexico Wildlife Center.
The center is now in the process of trying to raise the deer, while trying to keep their behavior wild enough to eventually send them back on their own.
“We can’t do as good of a job ever as a mama deer could,” said Melissa Moore, executive director of the NM Wildlife Center. “If we can leave them with their families, it’s much better for everybody.”
The center says two of the deer being raised at the facility are twin brothers whose mother died during birth near Red River.
The third fawn, a female, the wildlife center believes was mistakenly taken near Raton by someone who thought the fawn was abandoned by its mother.
“A fawn laying in the grass all by itself is a completely natural and expected situation,” said Moore.
Unfortunately, the center says that the misunderstanding of wild animal behavior is all too common.
“Now is the time of year where we get hundreds of animals that are accidentally kidnapped,” said Devries.
For the next several months, Devries will oversee much of the fawns’ care. The animals will be fed a special mule deer formula as many as four times a day. In several weeks, the deer will likely transition to solid food.
The center says the deer will be in their care for at least four to five months. Eventually, they will be transitioned into foraging and eating outdoors on their own in a containment enclosure on site before they’re released.
While the fawns are undeniably cute, staff say caring for the deer is strictly business.
“We don’t talk to them, we do not pet them, we do not cuddle them we try to keep them wild,” said Devries.
The center says it tries to warn people not to get involved. They encourage anyone with questions about getting involved to call the experts before intervening.
For now, the center knows it will be a challenge to raise the animals while getting them to retain their wild traits.
“The deer being so young, being not even a day old whenever we got them, it’s going to be extremely difficult to not have them habitualize to us,” said Devries.
The New Mexico Wildlife Center is a non-profit and relies mainly on donations to do its work. It estimates it will cost at least $4,000 per fawn to feed and care for the animals.