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1 WHITE-TAILED DEER FAWN REHABILITATION Introduction - Question: Who here has done fawn rehab? Who here is thinking about doing fawn rehab? - WOW s background Established in 1994, Wildlife of Wisconsin is a local wildlife rehabilitation organization providing medical care and treatment to injured, sick or orphaned wildlife for release back to the wild. They basically take in animals from three surrounding counties and help do rescues in a few others when needed. They normally take in 600+ animals a year, but in 2014 this number increased over 800, which is a 33% increase. - Our background - Jerome and Susan are state and federally licensed wildlife rehabilitators since the inception of Wildlife Of Wisconsin. Jerry has been Chairman for several terms, and Sue has been both Secretary and Treasurer. They have reached 1,000 s of people a year through their public outreach programs; and Susan is a current member of the DNR s Wildlife Rehabilitation Advisory Council. She also has a degree in Wildlife Management and Conservation. They have been rehabilitating fawns on and off through their 20+ years. Abstract White-tail Deer fawns offer some unique challenges in rehabilitation. Because they are a high stress species, a large size, and have a tendency to tame easily, this species needs specialized care for successful release into the wild. We will discuss the new rules that govern what we do, and share some of our experiences encountered throughout our 20+ years while touching base on what we and other wildlife rehabilitators do so you can make an informed decision. (Rules are highlighted in yellow and survey statistics in red.) Networking with fellow rehabbers will not only get you help when you need it, but you can also learn from the success of others. It will also prevent you from repeating their failures which is why we are here, sharing our experiences and the new rules that effect how we rehabilitate fawns. Well-meaning people often rescue fawns that have no need of intervention, literally kidnapping them. Many times these babies are kept in inappropriate conditions, fed wrong diets, and allowed to habituate on their captors or even to family pets. Outreach and education to prevent kidnappings from happening are recognized and, in fact, even the DNR have a Keep Wildlife Wild campaign going on. Page 1

2 One of the biggest problems we face with wildlife is half-tame animals, either caused from the captors or as a product of our own practices. Raising them properly, to be independent and not tame, recognize their natural food sources, and propagate with their own species will give them the best chance of living a normal life and a higher chance of surviving in the wild. Fawns should never be raised alone and should have minimal human contact. Also they should never be raised around dogs so they do not lose their natural fear of dogs since dog attacks are common in the wild. Rules & Map A. Where are you on the map? B. CWD affected areas (Appendix A) i. Only advanced licensed wildlife rehabilitators can rehabilitate deer ii. Deer from non-cwd counties can only be rehabilitated in non-cwd counties iii. Deer from CWD counties can only be rehabilitated in CWD counties iv. Deer can only be co-mingled with deer also from the appropriate county v. CWD/Non-CWD/CWD In Captive Elk areas vi. Test for CWD? (Yes 17% / No 83%) C. What is CWD? This is a neurological disease (brain and nervous system). No evidence exists that CWD affects humans or livestock. The method of transmission of CWD is unknown; however, there is strong evidence to suggest that abnormally shaped proteins called prions are responsible. The agent responsible for this disease may spread directly through animal-to-animal contact or indirectly through soil to animal contact. It is thought that the most common mode of transmission from an infected animal is via saliva and feces. CWD can be spread from region to region by the movement of captive deer or through the improper disposal of a harvested deer transported from a CWD infected area. i. Symptoms In early stages of infection, animals show no symptoms. The incubation period can range from approximately 1-5 years. In advanced stages infected animals begin to display abnormal behavior, such as staggering or standing with poor posture, carrying the head and ears in a lowered position. In later stages of the disease infected animals become emaciated. These symptoms are similar to other diseases and conditions (e.g., bacterial brain abscesses and epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or deer that have been injured in a vehicle accident.) ii. Diagnosed Prior to 2008 the only method to definitively diagnose CWD was to examine the brain, tonsils, or lymph nodes in a lab. No live-animal test, vaccine or treatment for CWD existed. However, in 2008 researchers from the USDA and Colorado State University evaluated and validated the first live Page 2

3 iii. rectal-tissue biopsy method for detecting CWD in captive and wild elk. The live rectal biopsy test appears to be nearly as accurate as post-mortem diagnostic tests. The key advantage to the rectal biopsy test is that it can be performed on live animals. The downside is Wisconsin does not recognize the validity of this test. Yvonne from Fellow Mortals does use this test. Her information is found in the resources section if you wish to discuss with her. Treatment - None Natural History After seven months of gestation, twins are commonly born after the first year. Whitetail fawns are usually born in Spring, but birth can take place anytime from early May through July. They weigh five to seven pounds at birth, and, unlike many other animals, they are born with their eyes open. The fawns are capable of standing and even moving within a few hours of birth but are not strong enough to outrun predators which are why they are born with the following survival gear: - Spots mimic dappled sun for visual camouflage - Fawns have little odor for predators to smell - Young fawns are programmed with a freeze response to danger - And finally, they can play possum by going limp when handled Does are very attentive mothers but since their presence can attract predators they are lucky if they spend 5 minutes to nurse and clean their fawns. This routine takes place around the clock at irregular intervals. After feeding the fawn(s) they find a resting spot 200 to 400 feet of where the doe left them. Twins usually find separate places to bed down and wait for their next meal. Like all inexperienced young, they can show poor decision making by lying in garages, porches, flower beds and under cars in driveways. This is most often the time when humans find a fawn and think that it needs help and should be rescued. Most fawns remain with the mother until the end of their first year, although occasionally a female will remain a second year. A. Natural History Lifespan: Wild 2-5 yrs. (male) 3-8 yrs. (female) Captivity: Up to 20 yrs. Weight: Adult lbs. (male), lbs. (female) Fawns should weigh 44 to 77 lbs. by their first winter. Body Temperature: degrees Fahrenheit Predators: Coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, bears, domestic dogs, man Page 3

4 i. Foods Herbivore Plants, grasses, leaves, seeds, acorns, corn, flowers, fruits, berries, bark, buds, grain, and vegetables. Water is obtained from streams, lakes, ponds, puddles and dew. Habitat: In forests as well as on agricultural land. Average range for deer is 2-3 miles from area, but will travel further if necessary for food, especially bucks. i. Maintaining Wild Instincts If a fawn loses its natural caution around humans it may lose its ability to survive in the wild. ii. Tranquil Environment Fawns become highly stressed around humans whom they view as predators. It is imperative that while in rehab the fawn needs a quiet environment void of domestic pets and human sounds/voices. iii. Socialization Fawns are heard animals in need of interaction with others of their species. This is especially important for young fawns to insure that they learn communication and social skills which aid in their survival in the wild. To Take or Not To Take Spending a few extra minutes on the phone with a caller that has found a fawn may save you weeks of work and money. Normally the caller is trying to help and just needs information and reassurance about what s the right thing to do. Begin by explaining deer behavior above. The doe may have been hit by a car, she may have had twins or triplets and one is much smaller than the others, or she may be a first-time inexperienced doe scared away from her fawn by people or dogs..use the I Found a Fawn: Now What? form. (Appendix B) Some rehabilitators believe the caller can help you determine if the fawn can safely be left for a few hours by using a hands-on approach. First warn the caller that when they begin the exam if the fawn starts to bleat the doe may just come immediately to its rescue. Have them stand the baby up and: - Feel under the stomach for the umbilical scab (if it s there <1 wk. old) - Lift the tail and look for diarrhea, check for maggots, scrapes and punctures. - Put their little finger into the corner of the mouth, toward the back of the tongue. (A fawn s temp. is 102 degrees so it should feel warm to the touch and the saliva should not feel sticky. - Have them pull the skin up on its back and check for tenting. Page 4

5 - Have them see if there is an indentation between the corner of the eye and the ear, sometimes as much as ¼ inch deep. Fawns are born w/a thin layer of fat under the skin and when healthy this depression is barely visible.) - Severe dehydration can make the eyes look like they are protruding and the stress of not eating can cause diarrhea. A. Myths If you touch the fawn mom won t come back. Actually human scent will force the doe to move her fawn if she is still taking care of it. She will move it to the farthest part of her territory rather than the average 200 feet she would normally move it. The fawn itself usually will move no more than 50 feet without the urging of their mothers. B. When to leave It takes several days for a fawn to starve to death so if none of these factors are found you can suggest that they put the fawn back and check in a few hours (morning wait until after dark evening leave the fawn until morning) A young fawn cannot handle cold, wet conditions for a long period of time. After waiting a few hours, and if in the same spot it was returned to, bring it in. i. If found in extremely dangerous area (i.e. edge of a cliff, middle of a highway, highly populated area) move it a short distance away so mom can find it. ii. A fawn can be returned up to hours after being moved. After this amount of time a doe s milk will start to dry up. iii. Newborns up to 3-4 days old will not attempt to run or struggle to get away from human contact C. When to take i. If crying for long periods of time (the alarm cry, not the soft nursing mew) ii. If found next to a dead doe iii. If it has been in someone s possession for several days and/or fed a replacement formula of some kind. iv. If it has diarrhea, maggots, severe scrapes or deep puncture wounds v. If it is severely dehydrated vi. If its body temperature is extremely low. vii. If something is broken (deer will grind their teeth if in pain) viii. If found lying on its side with outstretched limbs rather than on its stomach with its legs tucked in D. Capture Throwing a blanket over the fawn may calm it enough to allow you to pick it up. Be aware, the fawn s legs are very strong and can easily cause injury. Page 5

6 Description Page 6 E. Transport i. Pet carriers/boxes or a laundry basket work well for this as long as a non-slick surface such as a door mate is added to the bottom of the cage and a towel is draped over any openings so the fawn cannot see out. Be sure the container is not too large so it can t stand up and move around during transport or it could hurt itself. (NEVER allow fawns to sit on someone s lap or allow it to roam around a vehicle as this is stressful to the animal and can cause injury to the rescuer.) ii. A heat source should be provided such as a heating pad set on low placed under the back half of the crate, a 2-litre soda bottled filled with hot water and covered with a sock, a sock filled with rice tied off and then microwaved until warm, or a Snuggle Safe heat disc can be used. iii. Talking in the vehicle should be kept to a minimum and the radio turned off. iv. Deer in a closed container MUST have adequate ventilation during transport or hyperthermia can occur and result in death. A. Newborn: i. Appear very thin, almost emaciated, even if they are healthy. They can stand and walk but will appear unsteady. Fawns at this stage will have no fear of people, dogs, or other predators. ii. Body: 8-14 tall at shoulder, thin body, long, delicate legs and neck iii. Tail: 2-3, white hair underneath iv. Weight: 3 lb. to 7 lb. average v. Eyes: Open, sighted, blue coloration vi. Ears: Large, stand up vii. Hooves: Soft, often pinkish/grayish, harden w/in 3-5 days, scent gland between hooves viii. Stomach: Immature, one chambered ix. Umbilicus: Cord will scab over at 3 days old, drop off usually between 8-14 days after birth x. Teeth: 8 milk teeth, erupted; will be lost and replaced by adult teeth xi. Hair: Light brown w/over 300 white spots dappling body, white hair underbody xii. Freeze behavior (<1 week old) B. Infant (0-6 weeks) i. Body: at shoulder, long body, scent glands above hooves ii. Tail: 3-6 long, white hair underneath

7 Page 7 iii. Eyes: Eyes change from blue to brown (at approx. 2 wks. old) iv. Ears: Large, stand up, excellent hearing v. Hooves: Hard, black, razor-sharp, grow continuously, kept trimmed through wear during deer travels vi. Hair: Reddish brown to grayish coloration, w/white on stomach, throat, around eyes and under tail. vii. Flight behavior (>1 week of age). At four weeks the fawns venture out with their mother. C. Juvenile (6-12 weeks) Weaning begins i. Eyes: Large, turn dark brown between 2-3 months lined w/white hair. Colorblind, except movement detection during the day ii. Teeth: Adult pincer teeth erupt at 5-6 months old iii. Stomach: Immature ruminant (multi-chambered), chews cud (vegetative matter regurgitated from rumen) iv. Antlers: Pedicels (bony knobs) form on bucks skull at 2-3 months old, and 1 by six months (rare occasions females develop them) v. Hair: Long hollow insulating hairs for their winter coat. D. Sub-Adult (12+ weeks) i. Teeth: Adult incisors at months, no incisors on upper jaw, molars erupt at 6-18 months ii. Spots: Begin to lose iii. Weight: Although they are not at their full height yet, they lose the gangly, spindly appearance and begin to fill out. At this stage they are able to eat all varieties of food. Initial Evaluation/Admission A. Intake Info. - Obtain the following information: i. Where and how was the fawn found? ii. How long did the rescuer have the fawn? iii. If the fawn was fed, if so, what was it fed? Iv. Where was it housed? B. Restraint The fawn s eyes should be covered with a towel or hood to prevent further stress. To properly restrain a fawn place one hand under the fawn s abdomen and use the other hand to control the fawn s head. The fawn should be carried as far back on the handler s hip to prevent the fawn from kicking the handler with its back legs. For exam purposes lay the fawn down. The handler should be behind the fawn holding on to all four legs. C. Physical Exam Do it quickly and quietly so not to over-stress the fawn. If it is highly stressed place in a warm, dark, quiet location until an exam is performed.

8 Start at the nose working your way down to the anus and noting any discharge, swelling, body temperature, skin parasites and any lacerations. Weigh the animal to determine if emaciated and feed accordingly. Do fecal samples to help determine less obvious problems. Taking blood can rule out or pinpoint other problems. Check umbilical cord and eye color to help determine age. D. Be sure to check for the following: i. Check rectum for any signs of maggots, which is common in fawns left alone, and check for diarrhea. While back there take the fawn s rectal temp every hour until you are getting consistent readings. A heating pad or pair of warm bottles can be used to raise the baby s temp. You can also throw a few blankets in the dryer and use them once they are nice and warm. Be careful not to overheat the fawn. (The average temp. for a baby deer is between 100 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit.) E. Dehydration i. By tenting a section of skin between the shoulder blades (known as skin turgor), hydration can be assessed. If the skin goes back down immediately the animal is well hydrated. If the skin remains tented, more electrolytes are needed. Give subcutaneous or oral fluids as necessary. Initial dose 20 cc/kg and then 10 cc/kg until hydration is reached before feeding. ii. If truly orphaned, it is safe to assume some degree of dehydration is present. An electrolyte replacer, such as children s Pedialyte, Lactated Ringers, Bounce Back, Infalyte, etc. can be given by mouth to rehydrate the newborn. (See Common Illnesses/ Diseases section) F. On admission one can give the fawn the following injections: selenium (against white muscle disease, vitamin E, and iron.) (See Preventative Treatments) G. Place into a pet carrier with a piece of carpet or blanket for the fawn to lie on. The crate should be large enough for the fawn to stand up and a towel or sheet covering the front so the fawn does not see its human caregivers. H. Euthanasia Protocol A number of congenital defects are found in fawns and should be decided with the help of your vet whether they can recover or should be euthanized. Our protocol for euthanasia is as follows: i. If the fawn has more than one broken leg or hip ii. If the fawn has a distended, hard belly signifying major internal bleeding iii. If the fawn has irreversible blindness due to injury iv. If the fawn is born with obvious genetic abnormalities that would prevent release Page 8

9 Quarantine Page 9 Treatment medications will be administered for any other life threatening injury or illness for at least 24 hours to see if any improvement or decline is observed. Our vet euthanizes fawns for us due to the large dose required, but if unavailable a well-placed shot to the top of the head with a small caliber weapon is suggested. This is a quick, painless, humane way to end the suffering of an injured and/or sick fawn. I. Marking If you have a number of fawns individual identification may be necessary. Some people use ear tags, tattoos, or color the ears or hooves. This past year we used colored Velcro cable ties but must not be put on too tight and not too loose. One of the fawns did eventually knock one off so we have decided to put two on each fawn, one on the front leg and one on the back leg with the right side being males and left side being females. The importance of quarantining is to prevent the spread of diseases. When admitted here they are placed in a room away from other fawns and have three fecal examinations performed within one week before they can be taken out of quarantine. Gowns and latex gloves should be changed between sets of fawns in quarantine. This practice not only prevents transmission of disease and parasites but also protects the caregiver as most parasites fawns carry are also transmissible through contaminated feces to humans. Housing Housing varies with the age of the animal and with its physical condition. Fawns that need to be hospitalized or kept inside for medical reasons must have their bedding cleaned frequently. Another method of accomplishing this is to put disposable baby diapers on the fawn. A hole should be cut out to accommodate the tail and will catch the urine and feces. (Works for both male and female fawns) Change frequently and cleanse the genital-anal area with warm water and patting it dry prior to re-diapering. As we mentioned earlier, new arrivals should be housed in pet carriers or playpens and located in a quarantine room. A heating source can be placed underneath either one as long as the fawn can get off if they become too warm. (Cover playpens at night) Once out of quarantine, healthy enough and night temperature is above 55 degree F, they are brought out into our enclosure which is divided up into three separate areas with a bottle rack so fawns can be trained to drink on. (Some rehabbers do not use bottle racks as they feel with the different age in fawns it is too hard to monitor the amount they get.) After successfully drinking from the racks they are moved into a larger area where all the other fawns eat from

10 with a door open to a larger pen known as a deer yard. Fawns should be kept behind a solid barrier, such as plywood, since they are easily frightened by movement which can cause them to injure themselves. Page 10 A. NWRA/IWRC Minimum Requirements The minimum standards for a deer yard to house six fawns would be 30 W x 50 L x 8 H (1500 sq. ft.). Our newest deer yard is approximately 86 x54 x8 (4600 sq-ft), with an introduction building attached which is approximately 8 Wx20 L and divided into 3 sections. Two areas house fawns out of quarantine and introduce them to bottle racks, and the third is an area where they can come and go. This is their main feeding station and goes out into the deer yard. The deer yard has two gates into our fencing to open up and let the fawns browse on new vegetation when their first yard is being depleted. The corners are also rounded to avoid fawns who are spooked from injuring themselves in corners. B. Fencing Some places use wooden boards which can be slightly spaced apart for ventilation but not too far so hooves can get caught. We have used 4x4 welded wire fencing with visual barriers around the fencing where people may walk past in the distance. The remainder of the fence in the woods does not have a barrier which allows for valuable visual contact with the natural surroundings, and we want to expose the fawns to the wild deer that walk past. Smaller woven or welded wire fencing would eliminate the possibility of fawns catching a leg in the mesh. (Rules) NWRA -. If chain link is used for the walls, drapes or dark shade cloth must be hung over and secured to the inside of the chain link to avoid injury to the animal and keep it from climbing out. C. Shelters shavings or straw for bedding, never hay. There should be a minimum of a lean-to sheltered area adequate to house multiple fawns at a time. The back of the lean-to should face the direction that most storms come from. Supplemental foods can also be offered here. We have cut a small pull-down door where the bottle feeding racks are and another door to put supplemental foods and water through. This again cuts down on contact with humans minimizing habituation. Hanging flycatchers help reduce insects. Digestive System A deer is a ruminant, a cud-chewing animal having a specialized four-compartmented stomach. The four chambered stomach is composed of: A. The Rumen The main storage chamber which can hold 8 to 10 quarts of food. Roughage is consumed, chewed, soaked with saliva, swallowed, then goes to the rumen where it is attacked by bacteria and digestive juices. The movement of the walls mix the materials.

11 B. The Reticulum Acts as a pump of fluids and is active in the regurgitation process. It helps churn roughage for digestion and screens out foreign particles. At regular intervals materials in the rumen and reticulum are returned to the mouth for further chewing. It holds materials the size of a golf ball. C. The Omasum Has a mainly mechanical function. In this chamber the real digestion begins. As materials become more liquid, they are forced into the abomasum. D. The Abomasum: The true stomach and similar to the simple stomach of non-ruminants. The milk consumed by a fawn passes directly from the esophagus into this chamber. From the abomasum, food passes into the small intestines for further digestion. i. The rumen is quickly filled in one hour or so. The material is passed through the four chambers, is completely digested, converted into fuel, and then the feces are discharged within one to one-and-a-half days. ii. Deer are herbivores. At one week of age a fawn will begin to sample small pieces of dandelion and nibble at grasses. At two months of age it is eating berries, acorns and fruit. iii. A fawn will begin to drink water at two weeks old. A permanent open water source is essential. Fawns are most sensitive to water deprivation and quickly succumb to forms of stress when their water balance is upset. iv. A fawn must nurse until five weeks of age. If the doe dies within this period the fawn will likely die because its rumen has not been activated and it cannot digest solid food, although it will be browsing. v. At three months of age a fawn is still nursing and is not yet a functioning ruminant. A young fawn has sufficient bacteria to begin the digestive action, but still needs milk until the rumen is able to completely take over. Feeding A. Tools i. Tubes Red rubber catheters, feeding tubes, or even clear tubing used in aquariums cut to length with the edges smoothed by heating the edges up. Bottles Human baby bottles, goat/lamb bottles, non-vac bottles and soda Page 11

12 bottles. Glass is easier to disinfect. Whichever bottles used you should wash after each feeding and sterilize at the end of the day. ii. Nipples Lamb/Goat nipples should be attached to the bottle the fawn will nurse from. These nipples are 2 long and mimic the mother s teat more closely than baby bottle nipples. Can also use Rhinehart lamb nipples (#97), Pritchard nipples, or non-vac nipples (If rescuer used a baby bottle continue w/that as the fawn will be use to that.) B. Milk Replacers We have found that fresh goat s milk more closely mimics the protein and fat content in deer milk than commercial milk replacers do. However, we are not saying that this is the only route to go as we have learned that others do rely on commercial milk replacers and have had good success. 1. Colostrum contains the antibodies a fawn needs to fight off infection for its first two months of life. Unless a fawn is expelled or a C-section birth, it can be assumed that it has consumed its colostrum. Otherwise, administer colostrum orally if the fawn is less than 12 hrs. old, or inject serum if older than 24 hours. Cow or goats serum/colostrum will do, but best from the same species. Failure to absorb adequate amounts of antibodies will result in diarrhea and septicemia (infection in the blood). We keep goats colostrum on hand frozen in a freezer. Powdered colostrum can be obtained from feed stores and other livestock suppliers. i. Goats Milk (fresh, pasteurized) closely mimics the does milk composition and produced normal stools (40%) ii. 2% goats milk (can be purchased in a can at most feed stores) iii. Fawn Formula (Fox Valley) very good (40%) iv. Doe Milk Replacer (Zoologic) quite expensive v. Kid s Milk Replacer (Land O Lakes/Purina) some rehabilitators have done well with these; however, soft stools is a common occurrence using these (10% Land O Lakes, 10% Purina) vi. Lamb s Milk Replacer (Land O Lakes) readily available, easy to use, and the fawns grow well with very few dietary problems, although some rehabilitators expressed problems while on it such as not enough copper which is a problem for fawns. vii. Cow Milk or Replacer NEVER use, its composition is very different from a does, and difficult for a fawn to digest. C. Feeding Schedule The maximum allowable volume of milk or electrolytes to feed a fawn is based on the volume of its abomasum, or true stomach. Each feeding should not exceed 3% to 4% of a fawn s weight. Diarrhea is the most common result of Page 12

13 over-feeding, and prolonged diarrhea is often fatal. Fawns should be weighed every week to calculate meal volume increases. Multiply the weight in kilograms by 3% and 4% to get the maximum volume to be fed in liters, and multiply those values by 1000 to get the same volumes in milliliters or ccs. (Ex: 7 lbs. 5 oz. (3.3kg) = 99 cc to 132 cc per meal). Three to 4% of body weight works out to 0.46 to 0.61 fluid ounces per pound. The no. of calories per milliliter of formula must be known to figure out how much to feed. Another method is to offer the fawn 10 percent of its body weight in kilograms per day. (A 4 kg. fawn would be fed 400 ml of formula daily.) As we mentioned earlier, the first meal on admission should be an electrolyte. Electrolytes ease the transition from a fawn s previous diet to the hand-rearing formula as well as a treatment for diarrhea. As electrolytes rehydrate but do not provide sufficient protein or energy for maintenance or growth, it is recommended to feed a maximum of one meal of electrolytes in three. Stir in one teaspoon of Pepto Bismol in each bottle until diarrhea stops. Subsequent feedings should graduate to 100% formula in gradual stages (i.e., ¼ formula mixed with ¾ electrolyte solution, next feeding ½ formula and ½ electrolyte, etc. until you reach 100% of formula). Rapid diet changes can lead to diarrhea and constipation problems. All formula should be heated to 105 degrees F. Nursing frequency is very important; many small meals will improve chances of survival. Maternal raised deer nurse on average from 12 times a day at birth to 5 times a day at two months of age or less. Healthy fawns require three to five feedings per day, depending on their size unhealthy, or low birth weight fawns require more time and intervention. i. Techniques Feed in a room away from people and noise as that can be distracting to a fawn. Take the fawn out of the crate and allow it to stand on a non-slip surface such as a piece of carpet. If reluctant to come out gently prod its back end to encourage it to step out. New fawns can often be difficult to feed until they learn the routine and feeding supplies. If difficult to feed it helps to have two people. One person handles the bottle; the other person straddles the fawn, lifts it up, and supports its head during the feeding. The person with the bottle must force open the fawn s mouth and gently insert the bottle. It may also help to cover the fawn s eyes as in the wild their face and eyes are pressed against the mother s flank. When the nipple is in its mouth the fawn should begin Page 13

14 eating. If reluctant to suck you can squeeze the nipple to cause milk to come out into the mouth. Also, you can try stimulating the fawn at the same time you are feeding it a bottle which is what the doe does in the wild. If having to feed alone a rehabilitator should kneel down and straddle the fawn between your legs. This leaves both hands free for one to gently hold the head of the fawn and the other to grasp the bottle at a 45 degree angle downward so the fawn does not suck in air. The head should be raised and neck outstretched when feeding to insure the formula flows properly down the esophagus and into the stomach. Be careful not to be overly forceful as this creates stress. TIP: Only feed a fawn lying down if it is too debilitated to stand on its own. Technique I - Wild animals need to maintain a healthy fear of humans for their release back into nature to be successful. Initially the fawns are fed formula from hand-held bottles. Once outside and feeding well from the bottles, a feeding rack is introduced. This decreases contact with the fawn during feeding and to prevent an association of food with people. This also allows rehabilitators to feed more than one fawn at a time greatly reducing the amount of time needed to feed a small heard. (We are considering adding a silhouette of an adult White-tailed Deer above the rack so it looks like the bottles are protruding from her stomach.) No talking should be allowed during feeding, and feeding should only be done by the same caretaker whenever possible. This not only enables the caretaker to spot problems more easily but also decreases association of humans with food. (Rules NR Basic licenses may not possess deer, elk or moose.) Technique II - An auditory cue was given when we approached the outside pen for feeding, and the fawns learned to associate feeding with this sound. We fed the fawn s warm goat s milk from bottles held by a rack attached to the outside of the pen and projecting through the visual barrier. Once the fawns were consistently responding to the auditory cue they were released. We clang two glass bottles together. This sound can carry up to one-half mile away and the cue is not likely to be heard in their natural environment. The bottle rack was moved to the inside of the pen and the rehabilitator would enter the pen, stay behind the visual barrier, and give the feeding cue. Page 14

15 The fawns returned to the outside of the pen for feedings, which was gradually stopped when all fawns had reached weaning age. Sometimes the fawns would mingle with an existing group of wild deer and sometimes not. Technique III - Fawns have been trained to nurse from dairy goats. One goat can usually handle two fawns. It is important to worm the goats. D. Stimulation Young fawns need to be stimulated before eating which encourages elimination of waste as well as encourages sucking. You can dampen paper towels or a sponge to stimulate with which mimics mothers tongue. A fawn must be stimulated to urinate and defecate at every meal until it is observed to do so consistently on its own. We usually only stimulate for the first two weeks to prevent habituation. (Failure to stimulate your fawn can lead to rapid death from constipation.) E. Grooming Periodically clean the fawn by wiping it gently with a slightly damp cloth in a way that imitates a doe s licking her offspring. No need to do this once they are put into a group as they will lick each other. Water Once outside water should be made available at all times in a plastic dish that cannot be easily tipped over. Dry foods Dirt Provide a bowl of fresh dirt to your fawn starting day one until it is outside and gets its own, even then we still provide a bowl of loose (nonfertilized) dirt. The dirt provides vital trace elements and helps activate the gut bacteria. Pellets/Grains Solid food should be a dry ruminant mash high in protein (~17%) (Appendix C). Some places use a mixture of deer pellets, calf manna, sweet feed and deer corn to supplement feedings. Others have used calf mix, rabbit pellets and mixed grains as the fawn matures. Do not give your fawn unlimited amounts of corn, if at all. Corn fresh or dried in small amounts is a treat. Corn can cause Founder s Disease which will result in deformed hooves, but more severe is if it gets damp the fawns can get aflatoxin and die. Also if using sweet feeds gradually decrease when fawns are eating dry mixture as this mixture is high in carbohydrates and can lead to bloat (i.e., corn, molasses). (70% no to corn) Browse (By the time fawns are consuming 16 oz. of formula per feeding they will also consume pounds of browse and 3 pounds of seasonal fruits and berries per day.) Tubes can be put into the ground for browse to go in so Page 15

16 Page 16 the deer eat the leaves in an upright position as they would do naturally. Remember to cover tube holes when not in use. Week 2 The best browse until week 10 is raspberry greens and clover along with rose petals and dandelion flowers Week 4 Native browse such as dogwood, gooseberry and grape leaves should be added beside supplemental food sources. Alfalfa and hay should also be introduced and soybeans if available. Week 6-8 As they get older feed them other browse such as: poplar, oak, maple, elm, willow, birch, alder apple and crabapple, a wide variety. (Use a field guild to determine what trees, shrubs and grasses they will eat.) Week Add birdseed (mix of millet, sunflowers, oats, and peanuts) as a supplement. (We don t do this as we don t want them to become a nuisance at someone s bird feeder.) Do not feed them wild cherry, conifer, azaleas or boxwood hedges as these have been known to result in death to the deer. F. Supplements: Place a mineral block in the animal s enclosure, we actually provide a dish of baking soda for self-medicating. G. Preventative Treatments (63% do nothing, 37% worm) i. Ivermectin Deworm around week four at the earliest, unless the fawn doesn t put on weight or has ectoparasites. Valbazen is a good oral worming product along with Safe-guard paste. The Apple-cinnamon flavored oral dewormer is safe and convenient and a microorganism that helps to digest food. ii. Probiotics Most rehabilitators do not use any probiotics unless diarrhea occurs or if on an antibiotic. Fawns have to acquire beneficial gastrointestinal microbes that assist in processing any food consumed such as Lactobacillus to aid in proper digestion. iii. Selenium If selenium is lacking in your soil you may need to give an injection of BO-SE or LO-SE if this is not already included in your formula. (None of the soils in the Great Lakes basin have enough selenium, it all leached into the lakes when the glaciers melted.) iv. Covexin-8 Helps assist in immunization that is naturally obtained from mother. Give 1 ½ to 2 cc SQ, and a booster in 3 to 4 weeks. (Fawn should be 3 days or older) v. LA-200 Broad spectrum, long lasting antibiotic vi. Corid Since coccidia is common some rehabilitators use this in their bottles and later the water supply until release.

17 Hygiene vii. Infant Vitamin Drops Use for 7-10 days on fawns under two weeks of age. DO NOT use drops containing iron as this will upset the developing rumen. H. Weaning as fawns get older formula feedings should be gradually reduced as more browse is provided. We begin weaning around six weeks old and gradually cut them down to two feedings per day. If growth is normal by nine weeks old formula feedings should be reduced to ones a day with plenty of fresh browse available. By 12 weeks or the end of August the fawn should be fully weaned from milk/formula and should be eating native browse and other natural foods such as acorns, apples and corn. Periodically rake the floor of the outside caging except the deer yard which is done when all are released. It is important to remove old food and to wash your hands thoroughly with a disinfecting soap after handling the animals or wear gloves. Common Illnesses Problems Any time you give antibiotics it is a good practice to give them some yogurt or some type of probiotic in a paste form. A. Failure to Gain Weight Some fawns fail to put on weight, become listless, lack appetite, get colic, have loose stools and sag until their dew claws touch the ground. Add rice Pablum to formula at a rate of ½ cup of Rice Pablum per ten ounces of formula. Continue feeding this until the fawn is fat or weaned. B. Dehydration i. Cause Caused by a variety of things such as prolonged exposure to the sun, hyperthermia, blood loss, decreased access to food and water, or can be the result of diarrhea. ii. Symptoms Sunken eyes, dry and/or wrinkled skin, and skin with no elasticity. A good method of checking for dehydration is tenting the skin over the mid-neck region while the neck is held up straight. If the skin does not snap back to its natural positon within 5 seconds, the animal is more than 5% dehydrated. iii. Therapies Dehydrated fawns should be given an oral electrolyte solution as well as subcutaneous fluids, which can be administered directly under the fawn s skin between the shoulder blades. Lactated Ringer s solution or 5% dextrose diluted with LRS (one part of each) can be used for subcutaneous Page 17

18 injections. (Maintenance Dosage: 60 ml/kg per day). Severely dehydrated fawn dosage should be calculated by taking percent dehydrated (5% as 0.05 x kg x 1000 = ml of extra fluids to be given. The use of butterfly needles allow for easier injections and for the rehabilitator to remain a couple feet away from the fawn while administering fluids. Adequate glucose levels must also be maintained. If a fawn is fairly quiet it can remain lying down in its carrier while fluids are given. A fawn that refuses to drink should be given a daily dose of subcutaneous fluids until it begins to eat on its own. Debilitated fawns with diarrhea often require extensive supportive therapy including fluids, dextrose, bicarbonate, and amino acids. C. Diarrhea is the most common ailment in newly admitted fawns. i. Cause - Fawns can have diarrhea due to improper diet, stress, parasites, or all of the above. Fawn stools do not become pellets until the fawn is older and eating browse, very young fawns will have soft stools. ii. Symptoms - Diarrhea will present as very loose, watery stools, sometimes with mucous and blood. iii. Therapies: A fecal examination should always be done to check for parasites. When treating diarrhea the fawn s diet can be switched to an electrolyte solution for 1-2 feedings. Pumpkin can also be given ¼ cup to each 8 oz. of formula. iv. Medications - If symptoms persist 1-2 tbl. (15-30 cc) of Pepto Bismol, Deliver or 1 ml. probiocin for ruminants is added to their electrolyte solution. Can also use 1 cc 7% Tincture of Iodine added to the first bottle and 0.5 cc to each bottle thereafter until diarrhea is gone. If the diarrhea subsides milk is gradually reintroduced. (Always check for dehydration in fawns with diarrhea.) Oral fluids may need to be supplemented with subcutaneous fluids in severe cases of dehydration (9-10%). D. Dietary Enteritis or Scours i. Cause Any changes in the diet or environment, i.e., fawn previously fed cow s milk. ii. Symptoms Diarrhea (mild or severe) which can lead to dehydration iii. Therapies Do a fecal on the stool to rule out parasites (hookworm) or bacterial causes (Salmonella) or protozoans (Coccidia). iv. Medication Give 1-2 tbls (15-30 cc) of Pepto Bismol with each feeding until symptoms subside. If symptoms are not gone in 48 hours consult your vet. v. Prevention Avoid sudden changes in diet and environment Fawns can host a variety of parasites when they are admitted into a rehabilitator s care. Fecal examinations are a must to successfully rehabilitate fawns. Many Page 18

19 parasites, including those listed below, can also be transmitted to humans via fecaloral route. E. Constipation i. Cause Intestinal problems, milk formula that is too concentrated, fawn fed incorrect formula by some previous caretaker, fawn with twisted bowel. ii. Symptoms Fawn appears full, hard sides and stomach. Fawn either produces no stools when stimulated to defecate or produces very hard stools with difficulty. iii. Therapies Stimulate the perianal region during and/or after feedings. iv. Medication Pediatric glycerin suppository (one-time dose), feed rehydration fluids for only 1-2 feedings v. Prevention Verify you are mixing the formula correctly. Try diluting the formula for a while. F. Bacterial Enteritis There are several bacteria which can cause enteritis: Salmonella, Yarcenia and Cytrobacter. Most common is Salmonella. i. Symptoms Severe diarrhea, mucous diarrhea, severe dehydration and fever ii. Therapies One needs to have a culture sent to a lab so the correct antibiotic can be prescribed. iii. Medication Most can be treated with Amoxicillin, Ceftiofur and Trimethoprim-sulfa combinations. Neomycin solution of ¼ ml orally 2x/day can also be prescribed. Once treatment begins use Lactobacillus after each feeding of formula iv. NOTE: If possible, quarantine the fawn as bacterial diseases are highly transmittable to other fawns. G. Parasitic Enteritis Coccidiosis - Protozoans i. Symptoms Fawn will show a loss of appetite, act depressed and have some degree of diarrhea ii. Therapies Have a stool sample checked for the protozoan iii. Medication Treat with Albon or liquid Corid with the formula or water bottle each day for five days. (If they do not like the taste add apple flavored Jell-O powder to the formula or apple cider juice.) Remember to offer the fawn Lactobacillus after each feeding to replace beneficial gut bacteria. It is wise to continue at least one week after treatment has stopped Hookworm Parasite i. Cause Stress and overcrowding ii. Symptoms Anemia, diarrhea, and poor growth Page 19

20 iii. iv. Therapies Have a stool sample checked Medication Follow your vet s instructions but usually treated with Panacur (10%) at 3 mg/lb. Once treatment begins use Lactobacillus after each feeding of formula v. NOTE: : If possible, quarantine the fawn and clean up the deer yard H. Ruminitis or Bloat Gas bloat is seen fairly often in bottle fed fawns because of their sensitive digestive systems. i. Cause Change in feeds, overfeeding, feeding rich concentrates, diets low in roughage and high in carbohydrates, urea, glucose or nitrogen (ph imbalance) twisted bowel or intestinal blockage. Gas bloat occurs when too much milk enters the developing rumen and stimulates the growth of bacteria capable of fermenting the milk and causing a buildup of gas. ii. Symptoms Bloated fawns often refuse to eat and appear uncomfortable. Animal is unable to expel gas in the rumen (first part of the stomach), distension of stomach (left side) or entire abdomen, inactivity, rapid breathing, not interested in eating, fawn may lay in stretched out position. iii. Therapies - Fawns appearing bloated should stop receiving formula and heavy foods such as grains and be put on an electrolyte solution. Bloat can be deadly so early treatment is vital. Give fawn 1-2 tbsps. of peanut, soybean or mineral oil as a drench. Children s gas drops containing simethicone can also be given. For mild cases, use 1-2 tbsps. Pepto Bismol. Massage the abdomen from front to back, hold the fawn s head up and open its mouth to help gases escape. Keeping the animal upright and moving may help, or insert a tube into the abdomen to relieve the gas. When bloat subsides reintroduce a few ounces of milk with the electrolyte solution and about a cup of grains between meals. If the situation has not improved in hours, contact your vet. A rumenotomy-rumen puncture should be used as a last resort. iv. Medication - Oral antibiotics can be used to decrease the amount of fermenting bacteria in the rumen. One rehabber suggests treating with ½ cc Baytril under the skin once and ½ cc Genomycin in the milk bottle along with a half of a SMZ tablet (sulfa tab) twice a day. v. Prevention Avoid overfeeding, better to give smaller amounts of milk formula more frequently than larger amounts fewer times per day. Ensure they have plenty of natural browse and greens available to help ensure adequate roughage in their diet. Avoid high carbohydrate grains and low roughage supplements (corn, wheat, apples, and other fruit). Page 20

21 I. Blindness If the fawn is circling or dazed it could be thiamine deficient instead of blind. This can happen after deworming or if loaded with parasites (have a fecal checked). Vitamin B-Complex Plus will normally correct this condition. Many times the blindness in fawns can be reversed with a good antibiotic therapy. For bacterial infections (usually detected by blue opaque pigment) use Penicillin G at 1.5 cc SQ dosage for five consecutive days. In some cases cataracts are congenital and there is no fixing them as the fawn will be permanently blind. Temporary blindness with no eye trauma is fairly common in fawns that run into a vehicle. This type is usually temporary and sight regained within two weeks. Remember to use probias or yogurt during the treatment period to maintain bacterial growth in the rumen. J. Capture Myopathy The key feature of Capture Myopathy is HYPERTHERMIA, or an increase in body temperature. This will occur when an animal is unable to cool itself and may result from a variety of factors including overexertion, medications, reduced blood flow, high environmental temperatures and FEAR. Animals may die suddenly or symptoms may appear up to a month following capture. i. Cause - Fawns that suffer extreme stress can be susceptible to a disease symptom called Capture Myopathy. The condition is often triggered after a prolonged pursuit, excessive or prolonged stimulation (physical, visual, auditory), chemical immobilization, or being near other animals such as an incompatible species such as a coyote. Often seen in fawns admitted from dog attacks. ii. Symptoms Symptoms normally occur when the body maintains normal stress responses for prolonged amounts of time. Several outcomes may include 1. Circulatory shock from inadequate delivery of nutrients and removal of waste products (lactic acid) from the tissue. 2. Weakness and brown urine from inadequate removal of lactic acid from the muscles and muscle break-down pigments excreted in the urine. 3. Muscle ruptures from increased lactic acid and heat product in the muscles. 4. Cardiac arrest which is a delayed effect occurring days to weeks after a stressful event due to electrolyte imbalance. 5. Death, which can occur from any of the above iii. Therapies Fawns that present with this condition should be placed in a quiet location and administered fluids. Regulating the fawn s body temp is also important in attempting treatment. Often fawns do not recover from capture myopathy if it has progressed past a certain point. K. Ectoparasites Injured or orphaned fawns often come in with one or more of these external parasites, although even healthy fawns can be host to various parasites. DO NOT use topical flea or tick products on fawns as they have a tendency to lick themselves often and ingestion of these products can be fatal. The best way to rid Page 21

22 the fawn of fleas and/or ticks is to soak a cloth with permethrin which is non-toxic and wipe the fawn down with it. i. Ticks Deer ticks are often found on fawns during the summer months on both new arrivals and fawns in our care. A few ticks do not cause harm to the fawn but they can be carriers of Lyme Disease. Remove with a tweezer and dispose of in ethanol or isopropyl alcohol. Fawns can be treated with Capstar to discourage other ticks from attaching in the outside pen. ii. Maggots Maggots or fly eggs are found on truly orphaned or abandoned fawns. You can use a fine-toothed flea comb to remove the fly eggs. (Check carefully around the mouth, eyes, ears, naval and rectum.) Eggs that already hatched and are now maggots can be flushed out of any open wounds with a dilute Nolvasan solution and rechecked carefully to ensure that none remain. Essentials to keep on hand (Append D) Release Hand reared deer that remain very tame should never be released into the wild as they will not have the necessary fear of people to help their survival. If deer are unafraid of people they can become aggressive at mating time, especially males. A. Ear Tagging Although the WDNR require rehabilitated fawns to be ear tagged, which is normally done at release, others use either the yellow plastic cattle tags or the smaller metal sheep tags. Some rehabbers paint the ears or hooves, and some finally put ribbons of some sort around their necks. We use colored Velcro cable ties on two of their legs in case they knock one off. Right side for males, left for females. Should put in ear tags by 10 wks. old when they are still manageable.(rules All rehabilitated and/or rescued deer held for more than 24 hours shall be identified with at least one plastic ear tag issued by the Department.) B. On-site - Some rehabilitators with suitable habitat surrounding their property are able to release on-site, although this is not an option for those doing a large number of fawns. If fawns ventured too close to buildings an air horn is used at some facilities. (Rules Decisions about release location for deer from identified CWD affected areas shall be made through consultation between the licensed rehabilitator and the DNR Wildlife Rehabilitation Program Manager, and whenever possible releases should occur in the core, not the periphery, of a CWD affected area.) Page 22 C. Off-site

23 First Method There are several different philosophies regarding fawn release. All but one of the rehabilitators in Wisconsin currently rehabilitating fawns release in Fall, after they are completely weaned off the bottle and have spent several weeks eating on natural browse. (Fall 58%) Second Method - is to release fawns as soon as they are weaned (some at 6 weeks) and able to fend for themselves. The advantage is the sooner they return to the wild the sooner normal behavior can develop in a normal environment. The disadvantage is that these smaller animals do not have a mother to help protect and guide them and so releasing in a group is recommended. (Summer 25%) Third Method - is to release in Spring of the next year. The advantages of releasing in early spring of the next year coincide more directly with what is done in nature, and the fawns have the opportunity to grow bigger and stronger. According to Yvonne at Fellow Mortals, who has used this method for years, has had very successful results. With that said, others strongly disagree with this method because of the increased chance of becoming tame, injuring themselves or the rehabilitator. (Contact information for Yvonne is provided in the resources should you wish to speak to her on their process.) (Spring of the next year 8%) Fourth Method Release in winter after the hunting season has ended and the fawns have put on fat. (Winter 8%) Release sites should include: i. Appropriate food sources ii. Hunting regulations iii. Carrying capacity of the local ecosystem iv. Presence of Chronic Waste Disease D. Capturing Several ways i. A number of facilities do a round-up. They build a human wall to corral the fawns into a lean-to where they were being fed. They will manually capture and restrain them quickly, and take care to cover their eyes.as soon as they are captured. (Only those trained in capture and restraint should be allowed to pick them up.) ii. Injectable and inhalation drugs are commonly used depending on the circumstances and the procedure required. Xylazine is given at 1-2 mg/lb. intramuscular. This works best on non-excited animals and a reversal drug is normally given. Xylazine may be combined with Ketamine to produce a deeper anesthesia. Xylazine is given at 1 mg/kg and Ketamine at 20 mg/kg Page 23

24 Conclusion IM. It is imperative that you work with your vet to determine what is best for you. (Scott Diehl, another rehabilitator, is well versed in these drugs and has helped relocate hundreds of white-tailed deer. His information can be in the resources at the end for questions.) E. Transporting If tranquilized transporting in carriers is suggested with a cloth over to keep things dark with proper ventilation. i. Drugs used for restraint, particularly xylazine, because increased body temperature, decreased heat rate, decreased blood pressure and reduced respiratory rate. This will result in death. You must also take into account the outside temperature, which can increase the side effects of sedation medications. This is one of the reasons why these drugs MUST be reversed after use. A deer should not be sedated for any longer than thirty minutes maximum unless under the direct supervision of a veterinarian. ii. To transport non-tranquilized fawns a horse or livestock trailer works well for this purpose. Other rehabilitators use the back of pick-up trucks with camper tops. Straw or hay can be used as a thin layer of bedding in the trailer/truck. Once fawns are allowed to calm down prior to setting out, they will often lie down once the vehicle is moving. They are released early in the day during good weather. At the release site the trailer doors are opened and fawns are allowed to leave the trailer at their own pace. Hopefully you now understand how the DNR rules govern what we do, and the many different ways there are to rehabilitate fawns. In doing our research it came apparent that we need more post-release studies to determine if what we are doing actually works for the long hall. Also, we personally believe Wisconsin needs more white-tailed deer fawn rehabilitators throughout the state. One final thing, we found a lot of discrepancies from how much milk to give it, what it eats in the wild, and even the studies done on the wild deer were very contradicting, but then again there are a lot of variables. My word of advice is if you are doing something and it works for you and you know the fawns do well in the wild once released, then keep doing what you are doing. Page 24

25 Resources A. Fawn Rehabilitation/Overwintering/CWD Testing From Colorado Yvonne Wallace-Blaine Phone: (262) B. Tranquilizing/Transporting Scott Diehl, Director Wisconsin Humane Society, Wildlife Rehabilitation Center Phone: (414) C. WDNR CWD Issues Tami Ryan Tim Marien Phone: (608) (608) D. WDNR Rehab Liaison Rules/Caging/Rehab Questions Mandy Kamps Phone: (608) Page 25

26 Suggested Reading The Black-Tailed Fawn, Care in Captivity by Marjorie Davis, When To Return White-Tailed Deer Fawns To Their Mothers by Ann Connell, Driftwood Wildlife Association, Texas. Found in the NWRA Wildlife Rehabilitation Vol. 14 book. Whitetail Spring and Whitetail Country by John J. Ozoga (a former DNR wildlife research biologist) an explanation of general deer behavior through the seasons Jack and Anita Mauldin Boer Goats, A searchable document that shows Disease/Condition, Symptom and Treatment for goats which are ruminants like deer. Corn Toxicity - The Private Life of Deer - Amazing Nature Documentary on YouTube as I can t get the PBS show to show up on their website. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1wo6lrmmuq Page 26

27 Page 27 APPENDIX A

28 Page 28 APPENDIX B

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