With more people enjoying the outdoors and working from home this April, you may start to notice more wildlife in your backyard, neighborhood or surrounding area. Species including birds, deer and snakes are active this time of year and their young often stray or appear to be abandoned. But wildlife experts caution against lending a helping hand.
The deer fawning season begins in early to mid-May. A newborn fawn’s mottled coat and mother’s care usually hides them from predators. But as fawns mature, they shed these coats for a more adult color, which causes them to catch the eye. With mothers leaving fawns for hours at a time, you may spot one lying alone in tall grass or in a brushy area. Well-meaning people sometimes pick up these fawns, thinking that they have been abandoned by their mothers and need help. This is rarely the case.
Leave all young animals alone unless it is obviously injured or orphaned. To be sure, spend time observing the wild animal from a distance in order to make that determination. Staying too close may deter the mother from returning, so be sure to practice your social distancing skills. By interfering too soon, you may be doing more harm than good.
The same applies to young birds, who might be out of their nests but cannot fly. If the bird’s eyes are open, it has a coat of feathers and is hopping around, it is probably fine. Grounded fledglings will usually be up and flying within a few days.
If it is determined that a wild animal is sick or injured call the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s wildlife information line, (512) 389-4505, during business hours for a referral to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. After-hours callers can get the names of rehabilitators from TPWD’s dispatch line at (512) 389-4848 or by checking the department’s web site.