Leave young wildlife alone, habitat practices to help fawns

Published 4:23 pm Tuesday, June 13, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — June is here and so is our annual reminder to leave young wildlife alone. Baby birds, squirrels, deer and many other wildlife are often left on their own to keep both mother and child safe from predation. 

The fawn you see lying in foliage is likely fine and does not need any help other than to not be disturbed. Mississippi law prohibits the rehabilitation of fawns largely due to the risk of spreading Chronic Wasting Disease. Mississippi also outlaws the capture, possession or caging of any wild animal.

Does take great care in hiding fawns and they will often lay still making people think they are sick or injured. After a few weeks, a fawn can follow its mother and outrun most of its predators. Hunters, habitat managers and landowners can help fawns hide by encouraging early successional habitat in areas making it difficult for coyotes to find them. 

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One way to check if you have good fawning cover is to throw a basketball out into a space. If you can’t find it and have a hard time reaching for it due to thorns it is excellent fawning cover. 

Fawning dates in Southwest Mississippi are typically by the end of June and first few weeks of July. June and July are a period of the year where landowners head out to their fields and bush hog or mow. The practice could put deer and young turkey poults at risk so it is best to wait until August to mow. 

It is also important for landowners to have a food plot or work to create more browse and forb growth in the coming months. Antler growth and nursing are the two greatest nutritional demands in a deer’s life. If you have a timber stand, burning, legally and safely, thinning and stump sprouting are opportunities to offer more food for deer to meet those needs. 

Thinning encourages more sunlight to get to the forest floor and can be done by taking undesirable trees out of the midstory. Stump sprouting will go hand in hand with thinning. Research at Mississippi State University has shown the crude protein in stump sprouts is greater than what is found in young saplings. It could also be an attractant in the early velvet season. 

Vultures are also known to take up shop in abandoned deer stands, sheds and other structures. It is a federal offense to remove or harm them. Often it is best to wait for the baby vulture to grow up and fly away.