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Public urged to leave fawns alone

May is the month when most fawns are born. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is urging people to leave fawns alone.

While a new fawn may appear helpless, it's important not to interfere with the doe's natural instinct for raising its young, DNR officials said.

A doe's method of rearing offspring is different from a human's, especially for the first few weeks.

Wildlife officials explained it this way: Within hours of birth, the fawn is led to a secluded spot and the doe lets it nurse. Then the doe leaves to feed and rest herself, out of sight but within earshot. In four or five hours, she will return to feed her young and take them to a new hiding place. Only when the fawns are strong enough to outrun predators do the young travel much with their mother.

For the first week of life, frightened fawns instinctively freeze, making full use of their white spotted coats, a protective coloration. Newborn fawns are not fast enough to outdistance predators, so they must depend on their ability to hide for protection.

A fawn's curiosity may entice it to approach a person who comes upon it. The DNR urges people not to try to catch a fawn if they encounter one. Walk away. Never feed or collar a fawn.

Feeding deer can concentrate animals in feeding areas, which makes them more susceptible to predation, vehicle collisions, or other unwanted human interactions. What begins as a good intention to help the animal ultimately lessens the animal's ability to survive independently.

For questions about an interaction with a wild animal, contact a DNR area wildlife office for suggestions. In most cases, letting nature take its course is the best advice.