At this time of year, people may observe wildlife such as fawns that appear abandoned, as their mothers are out foraging for food. Homeowners may also notice snapping turtles laying eggs on their property. People should avoid approaching or disturbing these animals.
Unless a dead doe is found nearby, fawns are not considered abandoned. During the first week following birth, fawns are incapable of following their mother and will often lie in a curled position on the ground hidden in grass or sparse brush. Typically the mothers are nearby and will come to the fawn a few times during the day or after dark for feedings. Anyone who observes a fawn in this condition should leave it alone, as the doe will return. They are also advised to:
• Not feed or handle the fawn. At this young age, fawns can be approached and handled with little resistance; however, handling or removing them from the wild is illegal and detrimental to their survival. • Not to wait to see if a doe returns, if the fawn is alone. She will avoid the area until people and pets are gone. • Report any sightings of an injured fawn to the DEM Division of Fish and Wildlife at 401-789-7481.
In addition, female snapping turtles may be observed, as they seek out places to lay their eggs. They prefer warm, sunny, well-drained sandy areas such as gardens, compost piles, and ballfields. Most snapping turtles live in freshwater, but they are also found in brackish water. After laying their eggs, female snapping turtles leave and do not return to that location. People are advised to:
• Avoid contact with the turtle and keep children and pets away from the animal. Snapping turtles are harmless unless they are disturbed. • Do not move or handle the eggs. The eggs will hatch in August and September, and the baby turtles will immediately head for water.
DEM does not respond to requests to relocate turtles found on personal property. For more animal facts, visit www.dem.ri.gov.