It was a warm evening in early June when a call came in to the Wildlife Rescue Center of Napa County. A local Napa resident and his wife had found a fawn alone in their garden.
After searching for the baby’s mother with no luck, the concerned couple assumed the deer was orphaned. They took the very young buck to the Silverado Veterinary Hospital, which is the intake center for the Wildlife Rescue Center.
The mammal rehabilitation team, of which I am a member, was called into action. We immediately collected the fawn. A thorough examination and assessment determined that the baby was injury-free and in excellent condition. With obvious signs indicating that the 5-pound, 9-ounce buck was well hydrated, well nourished and healthy, we suspected that the baby was most likely not an orphan — but instead was an obedient fawn following its mother’s instruction to lay still until she returned from feeding.
Armed with the knowledge that mother deer will almost always find their young in the exact spot they leave them in, we decided this baby boy needed to go back home.
While rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing wildlife are all vital parts of the organization’s efforts, reuniting babies with their mothers whenever possible is always the preferred objective. With this goal in mind, along with the healthy condition of the spunky buck, the outlook for a successful reunion was hopeful.
We contacted the well-intentioned finders to collect detailed information about where and when the baby buck was found. Fortunately, the couple was willing to help and thrilled to be included in the exciting reunion attempt. Part of the Wildlife Center’s mission is to provide public education and awareness about Napa County’s wildlife, and this was a perfect opportunity to involve members of the community.
By then, night had fallen, and we decided that the reunion attempt would take place the following day. The tired buck spent the night warm and hydrated.
First thing in the morning, we crated the eager fawn and drove it to the finders’ residence. As the interested couple looked on, we quietly toted the baby to the spot in the garden where they’d found it. Upon being lifted out of the carrier, the baby cried out loudly. Within seconds a large doe appeared from behind a hedge. She stomped her front hoof and aggressively came toward the baby.
Confident that the doe was the fawn’s mother, we gently set the young buck down and slowly backed away. Without hesitation, the hungry baby raced to the safety of his waiting mom and instantly began to nurse.
In turn, the anxious mother deer welcomed her fawn back and began grooming him. The reunion was a success.
We looked on with tears in our eyes and joy in our hearts. We felt honored to be an integral part of this rewarding event as we watched this amazing display of a mother’s bond with her baby.
If you find an injured or orphaned wild animal, take it to the Silverado Veterinary Hospital. The Wildlife Rescue Center of Napa County urges that you not pick up or disturb fawns or other baby animals unless you know for sure they are injured or have been orphaned. If you are unsure, or have any questions, call 224-4295 (HAWK) for advice and help.