October 19, 2017 – Manitoulin Island was warm and bright for the awaited return of two young white-tailed deer. The fawns had been raised as orphans at Wild at Heart Wildlife Refuge Centre since the beginning of the summer. When they were admitted, they were very small, nervous, and needed around-the-clock care from our trained interns. Young fawns are only fed a few times a day, just as they would be by mom in the wild. This is because fawns are born scentless, which helps hide them from predators while the fawns sit in tall grasses and fields until mom returns to feed them. Oftentimes, well-intentioned members of the public can grow concerned when they find a fawn alone, but rest assured if the fawn looks bright and healthy, mom is close by finding food for herself, and keeping her distance to help keep her young safe. If you are ever concerned about a suspected orphaned wild animal, please call our Centre to speak with our trained staff before bringing an animal to us (705-692-4478).
Fawns being moved into a horse trailer for transport to Manitoulin Island. Transport provided by the Fieldings.
These fawns were bottle-fed specialized formula, and stimulated regularly to ensure proper digestion. Their milk has specific nutrients and diet requirements for ungulates, or hoofed mammals, and cannot be purchased at a grocery store or pet store. They are very social animals which need to be raised with other deer to ensure a successful release back into the wild. As these fawns grew, they were offered a variety of branches, grasses, and fruits and vegetables around their cage so they could practice foraging techniques. They also grew up together: oftentimes they could be seen cleaning each other after eating, and following each other around the cage! As they grew stronger, they grew more curious of their cage, and explored and ran about.
Two fawns arrived as young orphans at our Centre this summer.
Orphaned mammals require months of specialized care at our Centre. They often arrive very young, and need to be weaned from formula, and then placed in an outside cage where they can practice natural skills like climbing, catching fish, foraging, and socializing. This care takes a host of volunteers, as well as community donations of food and money. Wild at Heart would like to especially thank Smith’s Markets and our dedicated volunteers for their support raising the fawns this summer. Without the hundreds of volunteers Wild at Heart has across four committees (animal care, education, construction, and fundraising), we simply would not be able to sustain our Centre.
The young fawns at their release site.
It is an amazing experience to see a wild animal grow, and learn to take care of itself on its own. As these fawns grew older and more independent, we began looking for a suitable release site. Deer are particularly difficult to find spots for, as they need a large plot of land to inhabit, and readily available food to last during the difficult winter months. Wavy Farms on Manitoulin Island was the perfect fit. Thank you to Katrina and Craig Fielding, and everyone at Wavy Farms for their warm welcome, and for providing a safe spot for these fawns on their property. Their property gives these fawns a second chance at a wild life, the goal with every animal that is admitted to our Centre.
Wavy Farms was the perfect home for these fawns. Thank you to the Fieldings for all their help during the release!
Wild at Heart is an acute care centre that helps hundreds of animals each year, and we are the only centre of its kind in Northern Ontario. An animal’s interests are always the number one priority for us, no matter how long the recovery period might be. These fawns were at our Centre for 6 months. When we arrived at the release spot, one of the fawns took off right away to explore its new, permanent home. We couldn’t help but feel a bit emotional watching her run off, having worked with the fawns all summer, but we knew in our hearts that they were finally back where they belonged.
Did you know you can symbolically adopt a white-tailed fawn? Your donation will help us provide the average monthly cost for food, bedding, and medication. Each adoption package comes with a: personalized certificate, 4″x6″ hand-drawn postcard, adoption letter, animal fact sheet, and artist bio. Symbolic adoptions make great birthday, wedding, and holiday gifts!
Read the Sudbury Star article covering this story: “Sudbury-area deer return to bush”