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Oh Deer! New TPWD Regulations

Oh Deer! New TPWD Regulations

Now that we are getting into late spring and early summer here in Southeast Texas, it is time for fawns to be born.  Deer will group up into small herds in late fall (after rut is over) and winter; however, once spring arrives, the does will separate and go their own way to prepare for giving birth.  Generally fawns are born mid-May to early July (a good way to remember is approximately Mother’s Day through July 4th, ish).  

Female Deer (does) move away from their herd when they are getting close to giving birth.  First time moms usually have a single fawn, and after that if food is plentiful, they will usually have twins or triplets.  The doe will scope out what she perceives to be a safe and quiet spot to give birth (and remember, she is usually doing this in the middle of the night when humans are sleeping and not out and about, so your fenced yard might look like the PERFECT location).  Normal behavior is for a doe to give birth and then leave her fawn(s) behind.  This is to protect the fawn from predators.  Fawns are born with little to no scent; the mom leaves so she does not draw a predator to where the fawn is.  If a doe has multiple fawns, she will usually hide them in different locations.  Normal behavior for a fawn is to lie motionless, usually curled up with head down (although sometimes they will lift their head to look around).  They will not get up and run if approached by a person or dog; they are “supposed” to remain motionless until their mother comes back to nurse them.  Quite often, people come upon fawns left this way and assume they are abandoned.   PLEASE LEAVE THE FAWN(S) ALONE!  Many fawns are needlessly kidnapped every year.  

Fawns are very costly and difficult for rehabilitators to hand raise, and they need to be raised and released in small groups to prevent imprinting on humans.  To make matters even more difficult, all wildlife rehabilitators are required by state law to work under permits issued by Texas Parks and Wildlife.  Unfortunately, TPWD has recently adopted a whole new set of regulations pertaining to wildlife rehabilitation (as of January 16, 2021), so the rehabbing of fawns is now much more restricted due to concerns over Chronic Wasting Disease.   Due to the many new regulations rehabbers are being held to, our group has lost two thirds of our fawn rehabbers; other rescues we have been in touch with are not going to be able to take ANY fawns from now on.  Education about not interfering with fawns is now more important than ever as there are going to be VERY limited opportunities for taking any fawns into rehabilitative care throughout the state of Texas.   Of course, it remains illegal for any member of the general public to have a fawn or deer in their possession without applicable permits from TPWD.

If anyone comes upon a fawn they are concerned about, we encourage you to please contact a wildlife rehabilitation group or Texas Parks and Wildlife as soon as possible.  Do not touch the fawn, or move the fawn, or feed the fawn anything without first receiving some guidance from someone permitted to deal with deer/fawns.   If a fawn is found in an unsafe location (for instance on the side of a busy road), the fawn should be moved to a safer location, but still very close to where it was originally found.  

As our area continues to be further developed, deer are becoming increasingly overcrowded.   Unfortunately, this leads to adult deer being seriously injured in many ways (dog attacks; hit by vehicles; caught in fencing; poaching).  Wildlife rehabilitators are ONLY permitted to assist with spotted fawns.  Any deer (or even older fawns) are not allowed to be taken into rehabilitative care [Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 69, Subchapter C, Rule 69.44: (m) Wildlife rehabilitation of white-tailed deer and mule deer is restricted to fawns only. No permittee or subpermittee may accept or possess a white-tailed or mule deer that is in adult pelage (no spots)].  

For any concerns about injured adult deer, please call any of the following phone numbers:  

TWPD main dispatch 512-389-4848

TPWD Wildlife Information Line 800-792-1112

TPWD Game Warden Houston North Law Enforcement 281-931-6471

Montgomery County Sheriff Non-Emergency 936-760-5872

Texas Parks and Wildlife has some great information on deer (and nuisance deer) in Texas.  We often get inquiries about whether deer can be trapped and relocated (the short answer is almost always no; now with new restrictions due to Chronic Wasting Disease, it will most likely be completely prohibited).  This helpful information can be found at:


Many people enjoy having deer around where they live and watching them, as well as all wildlife.  However, it really does these animals a disservice to feed them by putting out corn, etc.  By providing supplemental feeding, it artificially inflates what any particular area can naturally support, and animals can become overcrowded.  Overcrowding leads to a whole host of issues, including the potential spread of disease, destruction of natural vegetation, and the overall health of any given ecosystem.  Please let the animals fend for themselves and enjoy watching them be wild.        To learn more about what we do and view pictures of many of the animals we assist, please visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SavingTexasWildlife.  Details and specifies-specific flowcharts regarding how to help found animals can be found on our website www.ftwl.org (click on “Help and Advice”).  These charts are extremely helpful to determine if an animal truly needs rescuing or not.  If you need assistance with a wildlife animal you may have found, please email us at [email protected].   Our educational programs, including camps and Second Saturdays, have resumed using our outdoor classroom space.  Our educational visitor’s center is open the second Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., located at 29816 Dobbin Hufsmith Road, Magnolia, Texas, so the next open house date will be Saturday, May 8 ($5 per person, kids under 2 free).  Details about upcoming summer camps are posted on our website as well as information on birthday parties and other educational opportunities.

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