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San Diego Humane Society

Deer: Coexisting with Wildlife

What to do if you find:

We recommend that you do not attempt to rescue an injured or sick deer yourself. Special precautions need to be taken when dealing with this type of wild animal. They can be very frightened and lash out at you with their sharp hooves or their antlers. The best thing to do is to keep an eye on the animal until a Fish and Wildlife agent or animal control officer arrives at the scene.

Spotted fawns found hiding in the brush should be left alone as the mother may be nearby and waiting for you to retreat. Check on the fawn 3-4 hours later and if it is still there it may be orphaned. If the animal is in immediate danger, proceed very cautiously when moving it to a safer spot until an experienced person arrives. It is best to keep minimal contact with the animal as they stress easily.

To contact the San Diego Fawn Rescue, you can call 858-549-4149 or 858-603-0170. Fish and Game can also be contacted when dealing with Mule Deer; they can be reached at 760-535-5735.

Food & Water

Do not feed a deer. Offering a small bowl of water may be appropriate for fawns but do not force them to drink.

Coexisting with Deer:

  • Fawn in the Yard. Make sure the doe can get into the area. If this is not possible, find the hole in the fence through which the fawn got in, put the fawn outside of it, and close the hole. The mother will return for the fawn soon. If no humans are around when she returns, she will likely reclaim her fawn despite the human scent. Black-tailed deer have a complex social organization. A female will aggressively defend an area 100 to 200 acres in diameter where her fawn lies, as long as it stays still.
  • Deer eating garden and landscaping plants. "Fence or share" is the general rule. Deer fencing should be 8 feet high if possible and made of high-tensile wire, mesh fencing, or electric wiring; placement may be angled to prevent the animal from jumping over. If fencing the entire area is too expensive, fencing individual plants is effective.
  • Black Dacron bird netting, purchased from a plant nursery, is effective when placed over planting beds or individual plants. The nets let new growth through, so they must be lifted and reset every few days to maintain protection. Netting can also be used as an extension above a fence that is too low.
  • Repellents can be effective through bad taste and others indirectly by sight, smell or sound. The following homemade concoction can be effective if sprayed directly on plants and reapplied weekly. Mix well two eggs, one glass of skim milk, one glass of water, and a spreader- thickener (a wetting agent purchased from plant nurseries). Apply.
  • Hang indirect repellents, including nylon stockings containing small amounts of human hair; mirrors; strips of tinfoil; or commercial smell repellents. Or hang rags soaked in ammonia on branches; replenish with ammonia regularly to maintain the odor. Deer are adaptable, so it is important to vary the methods, or the animals will learn that the repellents are not harmful and will no longer be deterred by them.
  • Planting deer-resistant plants can be an alternative, although none is totally guaranteed, especially when drought conditions constrict food sources.
  • Many people choose to share their yards with deer and other wildlife and purposely plant vegetation that will support wildlife.




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