Wildlife officials: White tail fawns have a great chance to survive if left alone

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GULFPORT, Mississippi — White tail deer fawns appear in the state of Mississippi during the first few weeks of summer.

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks is urging residents to ignore the newborn animals.

"We tell people the same thing every year — please leave fawns alone," Deer Program Leader Lann Wilf said. "If you encounter a fawn, do not pick it up."

Mississippi law prohibits the capture, possession, or caging of any wild animal, including white-tail fawns.

People often assume a fawn is abandoned because the doe does not seem to be around. Many times, people try to fawns home to care for them as pets.

Lying still is a natural defense for fawns and helps keep them hidden. Thousands of fawns survive each year without assistance.

Early in life, it is normal for fawns to be alone for most of the day. Does take great care of their fawns and purposefully leave them bedded and hidden, returning several times a day to nurse them. In only a matter of weeks, the fawns will be up following her and able to out-run predators.

After a gestation period of approximately six and a half months, most fawning dates in Mississippi occur from June through August.

"Following deer breeding trends in Mississippi, the earliest fawns will be born in the northwest portion of the state, and the latest fawns will be born in the southeastern portions of the state," Wilf said.

Here's a few facts about white tail fawns:

— At birth, they have a spotted reddish coat that is fairly silky. Several hundred spots may be on the coat. The spots enable the fawn to camouflage itself. The colors blend well with the surrounding natural environment. They usually weigh between four and eight pounds at birth. The whitetail fawn loses its spots by the end of October of the same year it was born, or within three to four months after birth.

— The fawn is also weaned by the time it loses its spots. By November the average whitetail male fawn will weigh between 80 and 85 pounds, and the female fawn will weigh between 75 and 80 pounds.

As the spots disappear, the fawn's coat also changes from its reddish color to a grayish winter coat. The buck fawn's face grows a bit darker in color, but the belly remains white.

Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com

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