An eastern Georgia couple walked into Walmart with a baby fawn and walked out with a citation and hefty fine from the Department of Natural Resources. Store employees noticed the couple holding the deer in-store whilst shopping for dog food and milk to feed it, then called the authorities.
According to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, the deer was only about a week old. Its mother likely left it alone temporarily rather than outright abandoning it. But now a licensed wildlife rehabilitation specialist must integrate the deer back into the wild.
Funny enough, the couple almost got away with the crime. They had already left the store by the time officers responded. But by reviewing security-camera footage, conservation officers identified a company logo on the man’s t-shirt. They used the information to track the couple down and issue the proper citation.
The man claimed that his dogs brought the deer to his doorstep and that he and his wife wanted to keep it. Georgia DNR officers disagreed, explaining in a Facebook post that possession of wildlife without a permit is against the law.
Picking up a fawn and taking it to Walmart drastically reduces its chance for natural survival
“Just when you think you’ve seen it all, Game Warden Saxon Campbell got a call from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office about two subjects who had brought their “pet” fawn deer to Walmart,” the post begins. “Campbell was able to track the subjects down and confiscate the deer. [He] turned it over to a local licensed wildlife rehabilitator and issued a citation for possession of wildlife without a permit. This is a good time to remind everyone that just because you find a fawn ‘abandoned’ by its mother, it most likely has just been left alone until she returns and should never be moved.”
Field and Stream said that May and June are fawning times across the country, so it’s not uncommon to find fawns in the wild. Additionally, whitetail mothers often leave fawns alone and go off to forage for food or water. The fawns typically remain unbothered thanks to their spotted camouflage coats. Plus, they move very little, so they don’t emit much scent. The combination makes them difficult to hunt for predators. Wildlife resources say that fawns have a 65 percent chance of surviving the first two months of life if left alone to grow naturally.
Typically docile mother deer can also grow very agitated and defensive if their fawns are in danger. One such instance happened recently in a viral Tik Tok video. In it, a man accidentally steps on a fawn sitting right outside the front door. The Ring camera captures the action from there: the fawn screams, then the man screams, then the mother deer screams. Before the man knows it, the deer is charging him, too. The video’s author assures us that all is well with both mother and fawn, though.