BY MELANIE BUCK –
The last legally held fawn in the State of Arkansas has been released by wildlife rehabilitator, Tommy Young, and Arkansas Game and Fish Warden, Ray Hines. On Monday, September 19, surrounded by supporters, the fawn was released back into the wild after being rehabilitated over the summer by Young. The fawn was brought to Young by Hines back in early May. It was the first of almost two dozen that Young would care for this year, and the last to be released.
In 2012, AGFC (Arkansas Game and Fish) made it illegal to catch a fawn white-tailed deer to keep as a pet. Young was one of the only people in the state that could still legally possess a deer, and only as part of his rehabilitative services. However, this year, more laws were passed as Chronic Wasting Disease begins to spread in Northwest Arkansas, prohibiting even a rehabilitator from possessing them. It is all in an effort to manage the spreading of the disease. Chronic Wasting Disease is a contagious neurological disease affecting deer, elk and moose. It causes a characteristic spongy degeneration of the brains of infected animals resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and death.
Hines and Young warn others not to pick up fawns, specifically. Too many times, both said, the fawns are seen alone and picked up by people who think they have been abandoned by their mothers, when in fact, the majority of the time, the mothers are within hearing distance of the fawn. In May 2016, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Deer Program Coordinator Cory Gray said, “We get quite a few calls about people thinking fawns have been abandoned by their mothers. Early in life, fawns lay very still so as not to attract predators, and are frequently mistaken for being in distress or abandoned. That deer has a much better chance of surviving if you simply walk away and let its mother tend to it like it knows how to do. And seeing a doe that died from a car collision nearby doesn’t necessarily mean the fawn’s mother was killed.”
Also released that day was a Barred Owl that Young rehabilitated. The 2-year old owl was released by Clint Buck.