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Wildlife officials advise Utahns against bringing home elk calves and deer fawns



Salt Lake City, Utah – This summer, if you see a deer fawn sleeping by itself on a patch of mountain grass, avoid touching, feeding, and most definitely take it home.

“It’s not abandoned,” said Dax Mangus, the big game coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

“Every year people, with good intentions, think they’re going to save an abandoned animal or something, and they pick it up and bring it in,” he said. “That’s the worst thing you could do.”

Despite their seeming desertion, the animals are using this as a survival tactic.

Until they are strong enough to accompany their moms, deer, and elk leave their babies alone for the majority of the first few weeks of their life.

Mangus stated that the mother is unlikely to locate her young if the fawn is taken from its hiding place.

“Which will probably result in the animal starving to death,” he added.

Wildlife officials claim that predators are diverted from the young by leaving the young alone—until they develop a scent. They are also shielded when they eat and sleep by their camouflaged cloak.
Touching one of the young animals might therefore put them in danger because a human’s scent could alert predators to the newborn’s hiding place.

Not only is it against the law to take the animals home, but it is probably not good for their survival. In Utah, it is a class A misdemeanor to keep wildlife in captivity, with fines of up to $2,500 and a year in jail as possible penalties.

In June, hikers may come across elk calves and deer fawns in Utah’s mountains, especially in aspen groves.

“If you’re lucky enough to run into one, snap a picture or something and then just back off and give it some space,” Mangus said.


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