Local News

Rangers: Don't take wildlife from Umstead park

Posted June 4, 2009 11:24 a.m. EDT
Updated June 5, 2009 11:13 a.m. EDT

— As spring invites hikers and campers out to Umstead State Park, park rangers have a message for them: Don't take the wildlife, especially fawns, out of the park.

Park Ranger Bob Davies recently got a seemingly bizarre call from a hiker.

"She witnessed a woman who (was) riding a bike actually pick up a fawn and take it to her van," Davies said. The caller said the woman then drove out of the park with the baby deer, he said.

"She was probably thinking it was injured and decided the best course was to take it to whomever, be it a rehab or a veterinarian," he said.

Kathy Dick, an anesthesia supervisor at the North Carolina State University Veterinary School, said that she took the fawn after she couldn't get in contact with park rangers. She brought the fawn to CLAWS, a Chapel Hill-based animal rescue group that is rehabilitating 25 deer.

"It was obvious to us that the fawn was hurt and needed help," Dick said.

The fawn had injuries consistent with a fox attack and needed immediate medical attention, said Kindra Mammone, a licensed fawn rehabilitator and executive director of CLAWS. Veterinary personnel couldn't save the fawn, she said.

Davies said that park visitors have taken animals out of the park before and that rangers are getting more reports of injured fawns, mostly from people walking along hiking trails. Springtime is the season for fawns to be born, and since newborns are weak, people make mistakenly believe they are injured, he said.

Visitors are encouraged to call if they believe they have found an injured animal, but taking animals out of the park is against the rules, rangers said. They will issue a citation to anyone caught doing so.

"People might think they're doing the right thing by picking up the deer, but maybe it ought to be publicized more that that's not the right thing to do," park visitor Angela Crosbie-Smith said.

The rule is for the animals' own protection, rangers said. "Sometimes, the mothers won't accept the baby back," Davies said.

Mammone called it an "old wives' tale" that a mother deer won't accept a fawn once it's reintroduced after human contact.

If someone finds injured wildlife and can't in touch rangers, the best thing is to contact a rescue group, she advised.

Dick agreed and stressed that someone without veterinary training shouldn't approach wildlife.

"Pursue someone else until you get in touch with somebody," she advised.