Well over 1,000 animals have come into care in 2018--more than last year, and we are sometimes receiving 100 calls a day. Thankfully, through education we are able to help many people keep wild babies with their wild mothers or parents.
While we can handle most injuries and provide all emergency care, we are thankful to our veterinarians for responding quickly when we need them at the hospital, or when an animal requires surgery. While most of the fawn arrive slightly dehydrated and a little thin, some are much more critical, having been attacked by predators like coyote or dogs, or hit by cars.
Bottle feeding young deer is time-consuming, but not nearly as time-consuming as preparing the formula, which must be warmed, and keeping the babies clean. Mother deer 'stimulate' their babies to defecate and urinate. Doing so keeps the fawn clean and nearly devoid of any odor that could be detected by a predator. When babies come into care, we must take the place of the mother--not just for feeding, but for 'pottying,' and this often takes 5 minutes for one little deer.
Multiple the feeding, 'pottying,' cleaning of bedding, preparing formula, washing the bottles by 15 fawns four times a day and you have a full day for one wildlife rehabilitator.
Fawns come into care beginning in May and sometimes into August, so we have different aged babies, which means we are bottle-feeding someone for three months of the summer.
The wildlife raised by rehabilitators are already at a disadvantage due to the injury or condition that brought them into care--so we use only high qualify food and formula for their rehabilitation. In the case of the fawns, this means pasteurized goat's milk that is purchased from a Grade A dairy.
The cost of goat's milk alone is now $100 a day! Add the cost of other food, medicine and supplies to the formula, and the cost to raise one fawn to release is $1,000.
Once the babies are old enough, we transition bottles to a bottle rack to lessen their dependence on their human caregivers--this is very important, as we need to do everything we can to make sure the fawns are wild when they are released, and that means limiting our interactions with them.
We will begin moving the oldest fawns to their secondary habitat in early July, after they are weaned. This beautiful one-acre propery is lush with fresh 'browse,' like grasses and young saplings. This is where they will live and grow big and strong before release--after hunting season is ended in Wisconsin.
For every fawn that has come into care, we have kept another five in the wild! It has been a good season for white-tailed deer.
We thank all of you who have contributed to help the wildlife in our care, and we want to especially thank our recurring monthly donors, who are helping to cover the cost of care for this summer's baby deer.