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Wildlife/deer with injury


There is a doe who had a fawn about 3 weeks ago. They live in the woods where my home is and hang around my property. Today she presented with a very swollen leg and looks to be like a large amount of swelling (fluid?) in her chest area. my neighbor noticed this last evening. She is limping badly and I have not seen the fawn all day. The doe has been in only 3 areas today, places where baby could find her but she hasn't gone out into the woods to look. The usual places where she parks her fawns are empty. At one point she tried to run over to a meadow where there was a fawn but the fawn ran over to another doe...wrong baby.The injured doe came back and has been lying on the side of my barn (a usual spot) for hours. I have fed her apples which I know I am not supposed to do but I do it anyway. She has not been foraging all day. I also gave her hen scratch. There is only a dirt road so she was not hit by a car. I am afraid for the baby but the boundaries where the does park the babies and let them roam are not that big and the moms and babies always find each other. This is a herd that I have watched for several years. I know them pretty well. I can't see any outward trauma or break in the skin. Do you have any clue as to what could cause this large amount of swelling and obvious pain? Thanks for any help.

Hi Mary,

Thank you for your question. I am sorry the doe is injured and the fawn has not been found. My thought is that with her acute presentation of limping and swelling, she may have suffered a traumatic injury that may have fractured her leg and/or disrupted soft tissues (not all trauma can be observed externally). This may have been caused by a collision with a vehicle (although there is only a dirt road, deer can still be injured if suddenly darting out in front of a vehicle at low speed); the doe may have been caught up in a fence; or she was injured while trying to aggressively protect her fawn from a predator, which unfortunately was unsuccessful. Her lack of foraging and extended periods of resting indicate that she is in pain and possibly depressed from losing her fawn.

Although I cannot be positive of the cause, I can advise you to contact your local Fish and Wildlife Regional Office to send out a wildlife official to assess the situation. Be warned that the best course of action may be humane euthanasia if the deer is found to have a fractured leg or other serious injury that is not recoverable. You may also contact wildlife rehabilitators in your area to see if they can provide assistance.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Regions:

List of California wildlife rehabilitators:

You may also contact the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Central Office to help locate a rehabilitator near you:

I hope this information is helpful and please let me know if you have any further questions.

Thank you for helping the doe!



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