Officers from the Hartford Police Department recently helped rescue an orphaned fawn. The very young deer had lost its mother to a roadway accident and, confused, the animal remained close to the highway. Passersby noticed the fawn and contacted the local police department.
When officers arrived, they took charge of the fawn and made arrangements for a local rescue organization to take care of the young deer. A photo appeared online of the fawn ensconced in the back of a patrol car. This particular animal had clearly been an orphan and could not have survived alone. However, wildlife experts strongly urge people in most situations not to approach or handle wild animals, even very young ones. Frequently wild creatures simply await the return of parents from other locations. There is a natural tendency on the part of humans to care for young animals, so people in the vicinity may feel tempted to make contact with an animal that appears orphaned.
Wildlife rehabilitation efforts usually focus upon returning injured or orphaned wildlife to natural settings. Unfortunately, young orphaned animals that receive extensive handling from humans may never survive well in the wild. These animals may imprint upon humans, viewing them as important food resources and role models. They may lose their natural fear of humans, and may also lose the ability to socialize well with other wild members of their own species. Often the best outcome for them involves living in children’s petting zoos or well-maintained permanent rescue shelters, where they may perform a valuable role by enabling young people to learn about wild creatures in educational settings.
For example, sometime rescued wildlife cannot return to the wild as a result of serious injuries. For instance, an eagle or hawk blinded in one eye may never regain the ability to hunt well enough to survive in the wild. In that situation, returning wildlife to a natural setting would only prolong a cruel death. Rescued wild animals that cannot return successfully to natural environments usually suffer euthanasia. One alternative to that outcome involves training the animal to serve in educational settings. Many seriously injured birds of prey enjoy a second life at “teaching birds”, visiting schools and daycares in the company of trained handlers. These creatures may help interest youngsters in learning more about animals and conservation issues.
The fawn rescued by the Hartford Police Department might well have become a roadway casualty without kind human intervention. Every year, collisions between deer and vehicles cause accidents in some locations, especially near wooded areas. Drivers at this time of year need to watch closely for the hazard posed by deer crossing roadways. Sometimes alert driving may prevent accidents.