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Oh, deer!
"All creatures of our God and King, 
Lift up your voice and with us sing, 
"All Creatures of Our God and King" is an English Christian hymn by William Henry Draper, based on a poem by St. Francis of Assisi

A few years ago, during a sunny and quiet teacher workday early in June, several instructors were walking down the hillside to attend a luncheon in the dining hall. On their way, and to their utter surprise, they spotted a fawn curled up in a shady spot beside the path.  This young fawn was nestled in a patch of shrubbery and tall liriope several feet from the concrete steps. Carefully bedded down, the beautiful little animal was tucked in well away from wandering feet. But, it was alone and seemingly abandoned. Alarmed, one instructor hurried off in search of a science teacher. The rest remained to stand guard over the baby and tried to determine if it was injured in any way. Science teachers become the immediate wildlife expert and will be expected to come to the rescue of any wild critters spotted on campus. Always. No matter what you teach, you are expected to know what to do and act decisively, quickly, and calmly. Parents, likewise, will be expected to know what to do. 

So, of course, I grabbed my phone and called a local rescue organization. We were told to stay away from “Little Bambi” and call back in the morning if Mama did not return to collect her youngster. As we arrived for work the next day, we gathered to check on “our” fawn. As promised by the wildlife expert, a flat imprint in the shrubbery was all that remained. Mama had returned, as witnessed by the evening maintenance crew, and all was well. 

We are approaching the time of the year when this may happen near your home and in your neighborhood.  Mama whitetailed deer need time to forage and feed. It seems strange to us, but it is totally normal for some wildlife babies to be left on their own. Unless something unusual happens, the parent will return. 

However, if an animal has been abandoned overnight, hit by a car, is obviously bleeding, attacked by a pet, fallen out of the nest, or in some way seems to be injured, it is appropriate to intervene and call a local wildlife rescue organization. Here are a few available in our area. 

NC Wildlife Federation | 919-833-1923

American Wildlife Refuge | 919-395-7749

Wildlife Welfare, Inc. | 919-387-1662

CLAWS, Inc. | 919-619-0776

NC Wildlife Resources Commission | 866-318-2401

A few North Carolina species of wildlife cannot be rehabilitated in NC, including adult white-tailed deer, adult black bears, coyotes, nutria, or feral swine.

For more information on what to do — including species-specific tips — head to the National Wildlife Foundation website.

If you feel inspired to learn and do more, join one of the chapters of the NC Wildlife Federation. There are active groups in different geographic areas across the state. Their newsletters will keep you informed of legislation and environmental problems you may find particularly personal and directly affect you and your family. It is a good way to stay informed, find like-minded people, and it provides one avenue for environmental advocacy in our state.

– Marcia Ostendorff