The newborn fawn lay motionless, curled in its dark corner. It must have seemed a safe place to the mother deer when she left her baby that morning to go rest and feed. Camouflaged by its white spots, obediently still, and free of any scent to attract predators, the fawn is safer alone than with its mother. But to leave her baby in an alcove in a parking garage on the edge of downtown San Rafael, was a dangerous mistake. To a woman arriving early at the garage, the baby deer appeared pitifully exposed and vulnerable. All too soon, dozens of cars would be coming and going and the fawn would be subjected to the stress of noise and the presence of people.
The Marin Humane Society was called and came to the garage. The officer picked up the small fawn and brought it directly to the California Center for Wildlife, only a dozen blocks away, where it was placed in a quiet cage. The Center is dedicated to rehabilitating wildlife. Trained staff and volunteers care for thousands of sick, injured and orphaned wild animals yearly with the goal of returning them to the wild.
Because it is normal for does to leave their fawns for 12-14 hours during the day, well-meaning people often bring in fawns thinking that they have been abandoned. Whenever possible, we ask them to replace the fawn and monitor the area from a distance to see if the mother returns. It is a myth that animals or birds will not take back young if they have been handled by people. It was decided to take the fawn back at dusk and see if the mother would return.
As the summer dusk deepened into dark, a Center volunteer placed the fawn back in its dark corner. She then settled herself quietly in her car, prepared for a long wait. In less than a half hour, she heard the shrill call of a mother deer and, looking up, saw a doe standing just outside the entrance to the garage. The fawn also heard the call and rose, then trotted quickly to its mother for a brief nuzzle. The mother turned, the fawn following her, and like two shadows they melted into the trees bordering the open hillside. Caring people and an understanding of our wild deer sisters turned a potentially disastrous situation into a story with a happy ending.