Mississippi is known for its hospitality, but that tradition should end when citizens encounter newborn wildlife.

From hatching birds and newborn squirrels, to white-tailed deer fawns, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) reminds people to leave young wildlife alone. 

They may appear abandoned but that is usually not the case.   

“Baby birds, squirrels, and white-tailed deer fawns are among the most frequent wildlife that people often report as abandoned each spring or summer,” said Chad Dacus, the MDWFP’s Director of Wildlife Bureau. “Well-meaning people often pick these animals up in an attempt to care for them, but often do more harm than good.”  

In Mississippi, the capture, possession, or caging of any wild animal, including white-tailed deer fawns, squirrels, and birds remain unlawful. 

In cases such as young birds or squirrels blown out of nests during storms, adult animals will often find young and continue to care for them.  

For white-tailed deer fawns, which are free of scent, the doe takes great care to purposefully hide the fawn during its first few weeks of life. The does will return to its fawn several times during the day to feed and care for it. The doe protects the fawn by leaving it alone during the day, removing her scent from the area.

Instinctly, the fawn lays still in a fashion that makes people think it is sick or injured. At a few weeks of age the fawn will be on its feet, able to follow its mother, and can outrun most predators.

“If someone finds a fawn in the woods, they should not touch it,” Dacus said. “People need to remember that thousands of fawns do just fine without human assistance. I know it can be difficult, but people should keep their distance from the fawn. The fawn has a much better chance at survival if it is left alone.”

Does bred in December will begin to drop fawns in late June. Peak fawn drop is usually around the first two weeks of July. However, later breeding will result in fawns dropping at later dates. This means spotted fawns could be encountered as late as October in southeast Mississippi.