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Fawns would have been better off left alone

Posted: Tuesday, June 13, 2000

KETCHIKAN (AP) -- The fawns would have been better left alone.

That's the message from the Division of Wildlife Conservation after twin fawns, less than a week old, were found on Prince of Wales Island. The people who spotted the fawns by the side of the road assumed the mother was dead or had abandoned them, and brought them to the agency's Ketchikan office.

Wildlife Biologist Boyd Porter said that assumption likely cost the life of one of the fawns, and the other's future looks bleak.

''They have very poor chances of survival when they are picked up this young,'' Porter said.

He said does often leave their fawns for 24 hours or longer, but always come back. It's common for them to be left beside a road.

''There's a strong urge when people see them,'' he said. ''They want to pick them up and cuddle them and save them.''

Even touching a fawn in the wild can hurt its chances of survival. Fawns naturally do not have any scent, which helps them hide from predators. But when a human finds and touches a fawn, a scent is left behind for predators to follow.

When fawns are removed from the wild, they often become severely dehydrated because it is difficult to get them to drink.

The surviving twin will go to a local resident who is certified to work with wildlife. If it survives, it will go to the Anchorage Zoo.

Porter said his agency receives an average of three fawns a year that have been removed from the wild by well-meaning humans. Sometimes he is able to find zoos or game farms for them. However, many have to be euthanized.

''That's the low point of my position here,'' he said. ''It's not happily ever after like people think.''



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