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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Dept. of Natural Resources

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

fawnWhat do I do if I find an orphaned animal?

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.

Before attempting to aid a wild animal please ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is it really orphaned?
    • Is the adult out gathering food?
    • Is the adult nearby but out of sight? Adults RARELY abandon their young.
    • Has sufficient time passed without an adult nearby? An adult will not return with a person nearby.
      • If it is a nest, do the stick test:
        • Place a small stick on the top of the nest. Check back the next day to see if it has been moved. If so, the adult has returned.
    • Does it really need help? Most young animals that seem abandoned do NOT need help.
    • Will I help or harm this animal? A young animal should be kept in the wild unless removal is absolutely necessary.
  • Is this animal going to have a better life from my help? Remember that it is best to keep wildlife wild.
    • Removing young from their nests can disrupt the reproductive cycle of the animal. 
    • Remember, what may seem like an abandoned animal to you is normal care for most animals. The best care is always with that animal’s mother.
    • Wildlife can carry diseases and parasites that can be transmitted to humans. It is best to leave them alone.
    • Removing wildlife from the environment is prohibited by state regulations without a proper handling permit.


  • 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.

Interested in rehabilitating wildlife?

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 its 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.

Living With Wildlife

Many wild animals in Indiana have become displaced as the result of urban growth and removal of their habitat. Species such as raccoons, opossums and coyotes are becoming more common in urban areas causing problems when they use attics for shelter, destroy shingles and soffits, and eat garbage.

The DNR licenses individuals to provide nuisance wild animal control services to the public. Find a Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator near you.