May is white-tail fawning season in Indiana. That means we are going to start seeing posts on social media from people who have found 'abandoned' baby deer. Now, I put abandoned in quotations because not every baby animal you come across is actually abandoned or in danger.

What to Do If You Find a Baby Deer

One baby animal you're likely to see shared as abandoned on social media are baby deer or fawns. Most of the time, if you spot one laying curled up, alone in the grass, momma is not too far away and that fawn likely does not need your assistance.

Being Nearby May Prevent a Mother Deer From Returning

If you are lingering in the area, it can prevent the mother deer from returning to her fawn. If there are no obvious signs of distress in the fawn, your first action should be to leave the area.

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If you find a fawn that is curled up quietly in your yard alone, please do not be concerned. If the fawn looks healthy, leave the area so that the mother will feel comfortable enough to return when she is ready.

 Do Not Touch a Lone Fawn Unless You Are 100% Sure It Needs Human Aid

Mother deer often will leave their fawns alone for 10-12 hours while they look for food. If you do spot a fawn, do not touch it unless you are absolutely certain that it requires human aid. Not only can handling a fawn be stressful for the baby, momma deer don't care for human scent on their babies.

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Crumpled Ears on a Fawn Means It Needs Help

One tell-tail sign that a fawn is in need of human assistance is to look at the state of its ears. A fawn with ears that appear crinkled or curled is in a state of dehydration and needs help.

Dehydration will be visible within a day or so and is indicated by curling of the ears, ruffling of the fur, and dulling of the eyes. Ear-curling is the first sign seen as the rounded edges of the ears will dry and begin to roll back at the tips.

A fawn surrounded by flies or one that is crying for an extended period of time or that approaches humans to suckle fingers needs help immediately from a licensed rehabilitator.

Other Wildlife: What To Do If You Find Baby Bunnies & Baby Opossums

What about other wildlife like rabbits and opossums? A nest of baby bunnies in your yard with no momma insight doesn't mean you need to snatch up those babies and bring them indoors to save them. Momma bunnies venture out for food during the day as it is much safer to leave her babies alone in their nest in the daylight than it is to go out at night when there is a higher risk of predators. Likewise, if you see a baby opossum, it is very likely ok - if it is over 7 inches in length, excluding the tail.

Contact a License Rehabber

If you do find yourself needing assistance with an animal that has been abandoned or otherwise needs human intervention, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources offers a list of registered wildlife rehabbers on their website and you can find it here. It is against the law in Indiana to possess wildlife without a proper rehabilitation license.

[Source: Red Creek Wildlife Center; Indiana DNR]

Animals You Might Encounter in The Wild in Indiana

There is no shortage of stunning wildlife in Indiana. Here are six species native to the state that you might encounter the next time you head outside.

Gallery Credit: Kat Mykals

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