'Fawn-Napping' Is Becoming an Increasing Problem in Virginia, Experts Say

People often do more harm than good when they try to "rescue" baby deer.

— -- Virginia wildlife rescuers are speaking out against "fawn-napping" after seven people dropped off what they thought were abandoned fawns at the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Rescue of Roanoke over the weekend.

A spokeswoman for Roanoke Wildlife Rescue said people often think they are rescuing the baby deer, but, more often than not, what they are doing is "fawn-napping."

"It's not uncommon at all to see a fawn alone all day," the rescue center's Dee Dee Hartson told ABC-affiliated station WSET. "This time of year, mom will leave them somewhere because they're too young to keep up with her. So, the mom leaves them somewhere so she can forage through the day and she'll come back and feed them periodically."

Hartson added that simply touching a fawn, which many people think is a harmless act, could actually put that baby's life in danger.

"Fawns don't have scents, and that keeps the predators away," Hartson said. "Once you start touching it, you're putting your scent on it, which can attract other predators."

That doesn't mean you should always turn your back. Experts say that if an animal is in harm's way, such as on a busy street, you should move it to safety, according to WSET. Also, an obviously injured animal may be better off with some medical attention. Whatever you do, they say, act within reason.

"If the baby is curled up in what we call 'fawn position,' where they're curled up like a cat, then that's always a good sign," Lydia Hoeppner with the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke told WSET. "That means they're being fed, they're being taken care of and they're just resting. If the baby is wandering around, kind of sometimes they look like they're playing, that's also a good sign."

Hoeppner added that you are concerned about an animal, you should call wildlife rescue for help, WSET reported.