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Island animal rehab centre seeks donated helmets ahead of fawn release

6 young ungulates to return to the wild between Greater Victoria and Campbell River
Fawns enjoy breakfast at the BC SPCA wildlife centre in Metchosin. A half-dozen young deer will be released back into the wild across Vancouver Island this summer. (Courtesy Wild ARC)

A south Island BC SPCA animal rehab centre seeks helmets to help volunteers keep safe during its annual late-summer fawn release.

About a dozen fawns a year find their way to the agency’s Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Wild ARC) in Metchosin, said Wallis Moore Reid, senior wildlife rehabilitation at Wild ARC.

Most are orphaned but some are brought in unnecessarily because of those who mean well – and offer unneeded help before checking in with experts.

When fawns are quite young, they aren’t strong enough to keep up with their mother, Moore Reid explained.

“She essentially parks them while she goes off to forage,” she said. “The mother only visits them twice per day, usually at dawn to dusk.”

At that age, they curl up and stay very still – “bedding” to remain safe from predators.

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The same can happen if they’re interrupted by traffic or the mother is spooked in some way while seeking a “parking spot.” A person may come along the fawn awaiting its parent and assume it’s orphaned.

At Wild ARC, the young ungulates receive specialized care, including milk replacement formula for specifically black-tailed deer. Staff gradually wean them in July and by August they start to grow and lose their spots.

“In September we prepare for their release. At this point, the fawns are quite large and therefore they do pose a risk to staff when handling them,” Moore Reid said.

While care is hands-off, during the release process staff wear personal protective equipment.

A process honed over the years, fawns are herded into special containers, such as a modified horse trailer, and staff wear personal protective equipment as protection from the potential of jumping fawns.

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Refined as much as possible to minimize this risk, they did opt to add to the PPE this year, adding helmets to the repertoire. As a non-profit, and a need for expensive helmets that offer 360-degree protection while allowing visibility, they’re open to donated helmets. Anyone interested can email to see if theirs fits the bill or learn more.

As the only rehabilitation centre on Vancouver Island that can care for fawns right now this year’s release locations span from Greater Victoria as far north as Campbell River – to release fawns where they’re found.

The release date is flexible but lands generally in mid-September to mid-October depending on the fawns themselves. This year six fawns are slated for release into the wild.

Anyone looking for advice on an injured or orphaned deer or any wildlife can call the BC SPCA animal helpline toll-free at 1-855-622-7722 for advice.

Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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