IN.gov - Skip Navigation

Note: This message is displayed if (1) your browser is not standards-compliant or (2) you have you disabled CSS. Read our Policies for more information.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Fish & Wildlife > Wildlife Resources > Orphaned & Injured Animals Orphaned & Injured Animals

What do I do if I find an orphaned animal?

Two deer fawns looking under branch
  • First, be sure the animal is actually orphaned
    • Adults often leave their young to gather food.
    • Adults RARELY abandon their young.
    • Wait and check on the animal periodically with sufficient time in between, an adult will not return with a person nearby.
    • Most young animals that seem abandoned do NOT need help.
    • A young animal should be kept in the wild unless removal is absolutely necessary.
  • Second, remember that it is best to keep wildlife wild.
    • Well meaning people can upset the course of nature by removing young from their nests.
    • Removing wildlife from the environment is prohibited by state regulations without a proper handling permit.
    • Remember that what may seem like an abandoned animal to you, is normal care for most animals.
    • Wildlife can carry diseases and parasites that can be transmitted to humans, it is best to leave them alone.
  • Third, DNR does not care for injured or orphaned animals
    • If you are convinced an animal needs help, a list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators who have state or federal permits can assist you.

If you encounter an injured, truly abandoned or sick wild animal, do one of the following for assistance:

  • Contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator
  • Call a licensed veterinarian for immediate assistance with a sick or severely injured wild animal.
  • Call your DNR law enforcement district headquarters or regional headquarters

Find out how to become a wildlife rehabilitator.

What about white-tailed deer fawns?

    When you see a white-tailed deer fawn that appears to be orphaned, the best way to make sure a fawn is truly orphaned is to wait and check it periodically. Before taking any action, remember the following:

    • If the fawn is not injured, the mother is likely nearby.
    • Leave the fawn alone and it’s mother will come and get it. Deer can take better care of their young than a human can.
    • Human scent on the fawn will not prevent the mother from taking care of it.
    • If you do not see any deer nearby, have someone keep a lookout nearby that can watch the fawn without being seen by the mother. In most cases, the mother will come back and get it after you leave the area.