SPORTS

OUTDOOR CORNER: Newborns sign spring has arrived

Lyle Johnson
A fawn hides and lies motionless to avoid becoming a meal for a predator. Don’t mess things up by picking it up.

As I’ve spent a lot of my time in the outdoors lately, one thing is for sure. Spring is here and that means babies are everywhere. Nothing is more precious and cuter than babies whether they are human or animal.

The sounds of birds chirping as they collect food for their broods are everywhere and their young are learning to fly and fend for themselves. We have a sizeable population of Canada geese that have established themselves here and I’ve seen plenty of their goslings swimming behind their parents.

Those animals and birds are so cute that it’s very tempting to try and help out nature when we might find them in what appears to be distress. Young birds learning to fly might end up on the ground and seem to be defenseless. Trying to put them back in their nest seems to be the noble thing to do but nearly 100% of the time that’s exactly the wrong thing to do.

Young birds need to exercise their muscles to be physically able to fly and their parents can get them back in the nest if it’s needed. Sometimes the birds are just not healthy and become food for others in the food chain. That appears to be sort of cruel to us humans but that’s part of the survival process that keeps things going in nature.

One of the biggest problems that the Louisiana Dept of Wildlife & Fisheries experiences is people finding a deer fawn that’s seemingly been abandoned by it’s parents. Their intentions are usually good but misplaced.

When a fawn is new born up until it gets a couple of months old, it has no odor for predators to locate it by its nose’s ability. The spots on the brown coat act as a camouflage so other animals that might feed on them can’t see them. So it’s perfectly normal for a fawn to lay motionless, even in the presence of a human. It’s their natural defense mechanism; they think you can’t smell or see them and usually mom is not too far away.

People’s good intentions usually mess with nature in a bad way. Every year the Louisiana Dept of Wildlife & Fisheries receives dozens of calls from concerned citizens who have found what they consider to be “abandoned” baby deer or fawns.  With the best of intentions, some concerned citizens bring fawns home and then call the department to retrieve and raise them. 

LDWF wants the public to know that it is against the law to pick up baby deer or any other wild animal.  If caught transporting deer without a permit, these well meaning individuals will be subject to citations and fines. 

Picking up fawns seriously diminishes their chance to live a normal and healthy life.  When a baby deer is born it is weak, awkward and unable to move well enough to feed and escape predators. 

However, the newborn fawn has a coat of light brown hair liberally covered with white spots that provides excellent camouflage against predators.  The mother doe will remain in the area to feed and nurture the fawn.  When the young deer gets older and stronger it will be able to forage for food with its mother.  Until then, its best defense is to lay motionless in a thicket or grassy field.

Fawns turned over to LDWF must be hand reared by a licensed wildlife rehabilitator at considerable cost of time and expense. Initial mortality is high since fawns raised on a bottle in a pen situation do not have the opportunity to learn important survival skills. The deer that do survive in pen-raised environments must be confined to a pen for the remainder of their lives. 

When encountering baby deer in the wild, simply leave them untouched and quietly depart from the area.  This action will provide the young deer its best chance to survive in the wild and prevent a possible citation for a well intended outdoorsman.

Calling all Boaters, Motorcyclists and R/V'ers! "Join the Storm Warning Fleet!" Last Stand for America's WETLAND is a rally to demonstrate exactly what will be lost if coastal Louisiana disappears. Bikes, boats, and RVs from the Gulf Coast are invited to join in the first of its kind event to call attention to the vanishing wetlands May 31. Bikers are invited to come out in mass and meet up at the Downtown Marina in Houma for a wetlands rally and "raft up." 

Boaters will join on the water in a flotilla from points East and West. The commemoration of the opening of the 2009 Hurricane Season will serve as both a celebration of coastal heritage and a warning to the nation that we cannot afford to lose America's WETLAND.

Boaters will meet on the Intracoastal Canal-Amelia Boat Launch in Morgan City May 31 at 9 a.m. At 10 a.m.. the boaters depart with a blessing of the fleet and head to Houma via the Intracoastal Canal and meet up with the motorcyclists and R/V'ers for the beginning of the Last Stand concert and rally. At 2 p.m. participants will "Sound the Alarm" with a light and sound demonstration.

Check it out by visiting www.americaswetland.com or call 1-866-4wetland for all the info and support their effort to bring attention to our vanishing coastline. Remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. So until next time be safe in the outdoors, have fun and may God truly bless you.