CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It happens every spring.
Dozens of well-meaning West Virginians find newborn fawns curled up in tall grass, and immediately assume the critter is abandoned.
They capture the fawn and take it to wildlife officials, or worse, attempt to raise it themselves.
Gene Thorn, superintendent at the West Virginia Wildlife Center in French Creek, said touching fawns or other young wildlife is the wrong thing to do. "Wild animals should be left alone and allowed to stay wild," he added.
Most of the time, especially with deer fawns, the animals have not actually been abandoned.
Fawns routinely hide motionless in weeds or brush while their mothers feed. Thorn said the mothers sometimes leave their young for hours, or even a day, before returning to reclaim them.
The fawns' spotted coloration and lack of scent keeps them well camouflaged from predators.
Handling the fawns actually gives them a scent that predators can home in on. It also, Thorn explained, can expose the handler to a variety of wildlife-associated diseases and parasites.