Thursday, September 22, 2011

No More Spotted Fawns

The fawns and their mother were in the road again this morning. Though I was in a hurry to get to work, I stopped to watch for as long as they were in sight. They stepped through the barbed wire fence rather than jumping it, not seeing my motionless car as a threat. Though they strategically positioned themselves behind some bushes, I could clearly see them.

The fawns have lost their spots and they are smaller than their mother, but not by much. When she stood motionless, the twins came to her for reassurance. She groomed each in turn, licking their ears and along their shoulders. When either of them attempted to nurse, she danced away. One of the fawns respected its mother's dance, but the other was more insistent. The mother's evasive behavior escalated into outright aggression, striking at that youngster with both front hooves. I could not tell if the mother was play fighting or if she really meant business. Even a slow witted human could tell the twins were not going to nurse ever again. I felt a pang of compassion for the babies soon to be on their own in this dangerous world.

The mother seemed to not know what she wanted. She bolted away from the twins, zig-zagging at top speed and abruptly stopping fifty feet away. The babies waited just a fraction of a second then followed her. All three checked in my direction, then the mother bolted back the other way. This behavior was repeated several times. I am not an expert in deer behavior, but at times it looked as if the mother was playing but the babies did not enter into it. I thought maybe the mother was in the process herself of leaving the babies. It looked as if she wanted to run away, but just could not bring herself to abandon the fawns. That made me sad, too.

The doe had a damaged hind leg. Though it did not seem to slow her down, that leg was permanently stiff. There was a large white patch of hair at the joint, the resulting scar of an fairly extensive injury. Maybe a gunshot, but who knows. As many guns and speeding vehicles under the control of human beings as there are, this is a cruel world indeed for deer.

The deer soon bounded away toward the east with one long look back, so I drove on then, hoping the fawns and their mother survive the winter, the traffic, and the hunters.

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