Orphaned deer fawns found last week die despite rehabilitation efforts

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) – The orphaned deer fawns that came into the care of Wild 4 Life KY last week have passed away despite the efforts of area wildlife rehabilitators.

Lori Dawson, founder of Wild 4 Life KY, has been working to rescue and rehabilitate wildlife across south-central Kentucky for the last eight years. In that time, she has brought thousands of animals into her care and is no stranger to the difficult days of rehabilitation.

“It’s very difficult, and what, I think, what people don’t realize is that we normally don’t get in healthy babies,” Dawson said. “The babies that we get in, moms have abandoned them, so they’ve been without food or milk for a while or they’ve been hit. They don’t come in good situations.”

When Dawson received the call about a deer in distress, she did everything in her power to care for the already dehydrated animal. Making a public request for goat’s milk, the closest substitute to deer’s milk, the call was answered, but was ultimately too late.

The mother died the same day that she gave birth, and the twins, named Jack and Jill, followed in the coming days.

“It was one of the hottest days we had, the heat index was in the hundreds, and the gentleman who made the call said that the deer had been in his yard for two days,” said Dawson. “Usually when I get fawns in, they’re five to six pounds, even newborns are five to six pounds. One was just under four pounds, one was just over four, so they were extremely tiny.”

Dawson explained that around 29 percent of the animals that come into her care unfortunately pass away. Despite this, she says that the success stories make her efforts worthwhile. Wild 4 Life KY is funded entirely by donations or from Dawson’s own funds, making veterinary care limited.

“It’s hard to watch death, but when you release an animal and you see like, ‘Hey, my work and my time did go well. Look, they’re free, they’re running around and they’re living a happy life because I rehabbed them,’” Dawson said.

While the majority of her rescues are success stories, Dawson says there are still many obstacles in finding volunteers and funding for the nonprofit.

“I think that people think that when they come and volunteer here, it’s going to be like when you go to the humane society,” Dawson said. “You can take the dogs for walks, you can love on them, you can play with the kittens, or get a toy. It’s just not like that here, you know? It’s not the fun experience.”

Those who are interested in volunteering or donating to the nonprofit are welcome to visit Wild 4 Life KY’s Facebook page to learn more.