WHAT WE DO
Most fawns come to us due to human interference. Therefore, we feel a strong obligation to restore them to health and return them to the wild where they belong.
Fawn Rescue of Sonoma County is a unique wildlife organization. Our goal, our mission, is to successfully rescue, raise, rehabilitate and release ill, injured or orphaned Black-tailed fawns back into the wild.
We understand that human interference, deteriorating habitat conditions; disease and predators are just a handful of life-threatening challenges the species’ currently face. Recent studies have indicated that no other state in the U.S. has seen their Black-tailed deer population fall as much as California in the modern era. In 1960, the population was over 2 million. Today, it is estimated to be around 400,000. That’s an 80% decline in 60 years, or a 2.6% drop each year.
This is why Fawn Rescue of Sonoma County feels a deep obligation to preserve the population by protecting them at their most vulnerable. Our goal is to give every fawn a fighting chance at survival when it is released. For the strength of our greater ecosystem depends on the health and wellbeing of the animals within it.
Each year, from April to September, we provide support 24/7 answering and responding to emergency and non-emergency calls for assistance from the public. We also attend to requests for help from County Animal Regulation, Public Works, The Humane Society, animal care agencies, Sonoma County wildlife centers, Police and Sheriff’s Departments, Park Rangers and veterinarians alike.
Our trained animal care coordinator and volunteer teams respond in-person, interfacing directly with injured, ill or orphaned fawns. They administer care, handle and transport fawns to safety. And, if necessary, they will call upon an established network of volunteer Veterinarians should a fawn require more advanced, life-saving medical procedures.
On average, we rescue over 100 fawns each season. Since 1989, more than 3,000 fawns have been saved, 360 raised and 1,800 successfully reunited back into the wild.
Rescuing a fawn is the most challenging part of our job. Some days bring happiness, others, heartbreak. Our work is never easy. But we must always remain calm and patient with those who need our help and educate and guide those who are unfamiliar with fawns or deer.
There are times we won’t know the extent of injury or illness a fawn may have, or the length of time it has been orphaned until we arrive on scene. But, there are also times where we don’t need to interfere at all – we just let nature take its course, letting the fawn be.
Types of rescue situations are endless though, and range from domestic pet or wild predator attacks to drowning in swimming pools, getting caught in fences or hit by cars. We also rescue fawns from illegal captivity, where people raise them as pets, which fatally shifts their wild makeup.
Although we see countless cases of severe malnutrition, disease, life altering birth defects, we also see hope. We know for a fact that fawns are strong. But sometimes they need our expertise handling and care in order to strengthen their resiliency.
RAISE AND REHABILITATE
Raising or rehabilitating fawns is complex, not unlike their makeup. Everything from housing to nourishment to medical treatments to transport must be carefully executed with proper oversight, and with limited human interaction. As wild animals, fawns should fear humans – for if they bond to a human, that bond is nearly impossible to reverse.
For the influx of fawns each season, we construct satellite pens throughout the County in remote locations with water sources and adequate tree coverage. The construction of each facility must be in compliance with Fish and Wildlife and the safety of the pens must be ensured so that predators are deterred, and noises are limited to minimize stress. Pens must be outfitted with proper amenities for survival and continuously maintained for cleanliness and structural integrity.
Dependent upon their age, nursing fawns must be fed by bottle an upwards of four times a day for proper nutrition. For those old enough to be weaned from formula, native plants, or “local greens” must be collected and fed to the fawns at the same frequency. This requires on-site, full-time, volunteers dedicated to the rigorous feeding schedule.
For injured or ill fawns, medicinal treatment, dressing changes or other procedures are often required and must be administered under watch and advisement of a licensed volunteer Veterinarian, for these fragile creatures require the most delicate of care.
The most rewarding part of our job is releasing a fawn back to the wild. Whether we’ve rescued and raised it from birth, treated its illness or mended its injury, our mission comes full circle when the Fawn-mobile doors open to freedom.
Often times fawns will bond with one other when rehabilitating at a satellite facility. This is why remote locations are strategically selected, so that when fawns are released, they can be released together as a new herd, right from the facility. This type of release minimizes disruption of a fawn’s stress level, as it doesn’t require the fawn be caught or transported. However, special circumstances like short-term rehabilitations do allow our Animal Care Coordinator to return and release a fawn back to its original habitat.
Every rescue varies with degrees of intensity or trauma. But our team does their best to address each circumstance differently so that a fawn’s road to release isn’t a few months, but a few weeks, days or hours away.