By Chloe Litzen
Heather Taylor spotted something fuzzy and small nestled into the corner of her mother’s backyard. Driving a large, noisy lawn mower, Taylor could not believe the creature stayed still. She got a little closer to see if it was alive, and when she was close enough she finally saw what it was; In the grass was a very young baby fawn, all alone.
Growing up with a hunting background, Taylor was no stranger to deer and other prairie wildlife. She understood “there was probably a mom around,” so she decided to leave the baby fawn alone. She went on with the lawn care, all while the deer remained still and unfazed by the noisy environment. Getting as close as ten yards to the fawn, Taylor believed that the baby maybe thought it was invisible.
“When I got really close to it and looked it right in the eyes, the fawn stared back at me, completely still, only moving it’s nostrils.”
South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Regional Terrestrial Resource Supervisor, Josh Delger, explained that, “newborn fawns are left alone by design. Fawns have to hide from predators because they are not strong enough to outrun them yet. In fact, newborn fawns spend more than 95% of their time hiding, and the spotted coat of these fawns helps to keep them camouflaged.”
Curious, Taylor decided to document the fawn with several pictures throughout the day. The first picture was taken around 10 a.m. and the second picture was taken at 4 p.m.
The whole day went by and there was no sign of the fawn moving or a mother. When neighbor kids came over after school, their first reaction was “the fawn has been abandoned! Let’s go feed it.”
“I remember my friend Thea at The Outdoor Campus telling me about all the kids picking up baby animals. The best thing to do for these babies is to NOT touch them, and leave them be,” Taylor said.
Then, at 8 p.m., something beautiful and natural happened. The mother of the fawn returned to gather and feed its baby. The two walked off in bliss towards the shelter belt of trees surrounding the property.
“It’s solid proof that animals are designed to survive in the wild,” said Taylor. “I had fun telling my kids, ‘See, listen to your mom when she puts you somewhere,’ because that’s exactly what this fawn did and it remained safe and hidden for ten hours.”
The documentation of this natural process was fun and exciting for Taylor. “If you have wildlife in your area, don’t bug it, keep watching it. It’s a really great experience.”
These are the types of stories we like to hear at The Outdoor Campus.
SD Game, Fish and Parks always encourages people to leave baby animals in the wild. “If you care, leave it there,” Delger said. “This is a perfect example. People left the baby alone and the mother came back to get it. That’s what’s supposed to happen.”