Reason to Leave Fawns Alone: Iowa Wildlife Rehab Centers Won't Take Them

Jun 5, 2018

Right around Memorial Day is the time of year that Iowans begin to see fawns out and about. This year, wildlife experts are asking people not to “rescue” fawns, even if they are alone.

This is because fawns are frequently on their own throughout the day, and this is natural. The mother almost always comes back. Another reason for not attempting fawn rescue is that wildlife rehabilitators will not be able to take in young deer this summer.

Earlier this year, the Iowa DNR notified wildlife rehabilitators that the state would no longer give permits to groups that rehabilitate whitetail deer due to chronic wasting disease, a fatal neurological disease that affects deer.

Adam Janke, assistant professor and Extension Wildlife Specialist at Iowa State University, says that rule is in place because young deer that are asymptomatic could potentially have chronic wasting disease and transmit it to other deer at the rehab center, or even contaminate the facility itself.

“Once those animals are released into the wild, that could perhaps be a long distance away from where the animal was picked up,” he says. “There’s a possible scenario where you could be moving that disease, introducing it into a new area where it wouldn’t be otherwise.”

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Janke about the prevalence of chronic wasting disease in Iowa, and what can be done to limit its progression.

“Once it’s in the wild, it’s not going anywhere. The prions that cause this disease persist in the wild for up to ten years. Animals can pick it up from the environment without ever interacting with an infected individual. So really, the only chance we have for minimizing the impact of this disease in Iowa is to minimize the spread,” he says.

“The ways we can do that is basically not moving deer, and also not allowing deer to come into artificially high concentrations with other deer.”

Other segments featured in today’s show include: an interview with Des Moines Register investigative reporter Jason Clayworth about his reporting on the use of isolation rooms in juvenile homes; Joe Henry of the League of United Latin American Citizens talks about their lawsuit on Iowa's new voter ID law; Dan Lutat of Iowa Lakes Community College discusses MidAmerican's plan to invest $922 million in added wind-power capacity; and Fiona Johnson of Johnson County Ambulance Services shares tips on recognizing and avoiding heat stroke.