— -- Colorado officials said they want to remind the public not to interfere with wildlife after they recently had to euthanize a baby deer that was picked up by people who likely mistakenly thought it had been abandoned.
Two people stumbled upon the fawn in a forest area of the La Plata Mountains in southwest Colorado this past Saturday, according to Joe Lewandowski, public information officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife's Southwest Region.
Officials believe the people mistakenly thought the baby animal had been abandoned by its mom and decided to take matters into their own hands, Lewandowski told ABC News today. He explained that mother deer often leave their young for periods of time while going off to feed themselves and that they rarely abandon their children.
It appeared that the people were not aware of this and thus put the fawn in their car, drove it about 30 miles to the town of Durango and dropped it off at the La Plata County Animal Humane Society's shelter in the city, Lewandowski said. Since the humane society doesn't handle wildlife, its staff called state wildlife officers who then determined that "the most humane thing to do was to euthanize it."
"Unfortunately, we had to euthanize this deer because turning it loose in the wild would be cruel, especially since we don't know where it had been taken from or where its mother is," Lewandowski said. "The mother would have had the nutrition needed to nurture the deer and keep it alive, and we don't have such nutritional products available."
Deer "also need to learn from other fellow deer how to eat, how to move across the landscape and how to escape predators," Lewandowski added. Such imparted knowledge wouldn't be something wildlife officials or rehabilitators could teach the fawn, he said.
Lewandowski compared the "unfortunate" incident to a similar one that recently happened at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
A bison calf at that park was also euthanized after a tourist put it in its car after mistakenly thinking it was cold. Though wildlife officials tried to reintroduce the baby bison back into a herd, it kept getting rejected and officials had to put it down.
Lewandowski said if people come across wildlife they are concerned about, they should not interfere with the animal, and instead call their state's wildlife office.
"In many cases they can tell you what you should do over the phone, or they can even send out a biologist or wildlife officer who can then determine what the best approach is," he said. "The best thing people can do is to look at wildlife, admire their beauty and move on. They've done quite well without us for thousands of years and will continue to do so."