Ohio Must Bring Back Deer Rehabilitation

By Anne Muller

Wildlife rehabilitators are the stepchildren of the game agencies who control them.  In Ohio, the rehabilitation of fawns is illegal, consequently calls to Wildlife Watch from scores of Ohioans are one of the most dreaded we receive.

The choice given by game agencies when a compassionate person calls who has found an injured or orphaned is to “let nature take its course,” or they might add, “If we go out there, we’ll kill him.”

Often doing nothing to help is unacceptable to a caller (and to us) so the person is caught between the immoral and indecent choice of letting the fawn die or offering help that may be inadequate and also illegal.


Lane Ferrante, the Ohio Director of the League of Humane Voters would like to change the law. Wildlife Watch has written the following letter for her to use:

Wildlife Watch is a not for profit organization that operates one of the leading national hotlines for injured and orphaned wild animals.  The hotline is referred to the public by police departments, towns, veterinarians, and SPCAs across the country.

This past spring and summer, scores of calls came from concerned OH citizens about orphaned deer, raccoons, and other species found in distress.

Anne Muller of Wildlife Watch said, “What struck me was that people from all walks of life, including hunters, were appalled to learn that OH did not allow the rehabilitation of fawns.  When we asked if they would be willing to support an OH bill that would bring back fawn rehabilitation, they overwhelmingly said, “Yes.”  Wildlife rehabbers and the field of wildlife rehabilitation should be on a par with other community services, such as ambulance squads, fire departments, police departments, and community services that assist people in need.  This is a public need, not only a wildlife need. By allowing deer rehabilitation, the public is not placed at risk, and the animals are not given the wrong help by well-meaning but unqualified individuals.

Wildlife Watch fully supports the efforts of Ohioans to bring wildlife rehabilitation back to OH.  We have been hugely saddened and incapacitated by Ohio’s policy of withholding care for deer and raccoons in need and look forward to a change of policy.

We hope that laws pass, or policies change, to favor those who are helping the public by helping them to save wild animals.

If you are an OH resident and would like to jump on board this bandwagon, please contact us at wildwatch@verizon.net.  Please put “OH deer rehab” in the subject line.

One particularly sad story is told by Sandy.  We have removed her last name to protect her from the wrath of the Ohio game department, whose mission is to ensure that fawns grow up to be dutiful targets for hunters.  Caring for them is not on their radar screen.

Hi Anne,

They say that every event has a teachable moment….and this one did for me.  We didn’t know what to expect as we followed the movements, both physical and audible of this orphaned fawn.  It was all new to us.  We watched for 3 days as this unfolded from a prancing, young, healthy looking fawn to a slow moving, fragile, crying fawn. We could hear her bleating throughout each day as our hearts were breaking that her mom would never show up.  We watched as other does rejected her need to nurse. By the third day she was by herself, lonely, wondering where her mom could be….so heart breaking!  It was obvious that the mother was either wounded or killed.  What mother would abandon their offspring??
On the third day we watched her slowly moving, weak crying into the woods (where she probably was born).  We saw her drop down but still in the fetal position.  That is when my husband went out to pet her.  She was then startled and moved to different location.  It’s then that I went out and bought the goat’s milk and bottle.  As we entered the woods about 9PM that night she was down on her side.  We then knew that was a bad sign as told by you.  My husband was rubbing her stomach to try to stimulate her but she was too weak to take the bottle and just twitched a few times. We could see in her eyes that her demise was near.  We left her to die in peace.

God Bless you and all the work you do.
Sandy B., Westlake, OH


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