By: Tom Lambert and Carin Tunney

In early September, one doe and three bucks were released on Consumers Energy land in southeast Michigan.

The partnership between Consumers Energy and Back 2 the Wild animal rehabilitation and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is in its third year. The collaboration has rehabilitated 21 injured deer or orphaned fawns and reintroduced them to the wild.

“This gives them a true opportunity to survive and thrive,” said Rob Bourgeois, Real Estate Land Manager for Consumers Energy who said the hope is for the program to continue annually. “To see them run away is absolutely exciting.”

State law requires rescued fawns to be released in the county where they were originally found.

The ideal location requires enough land with little chance of human interaction to give them the best chance at survival through the hunting season and beyond. Since hunting is not allowed on Consumers Energy land, it’s the perfect spot to release the fawns.

As they mature, the fawns could migrate to other areas or they may choose to stay on the company property, which includes hundreds of acres of wooded and grassy land.

“We took these fawns in as orphaned, injured or sick,” said Erin Stacks, director of Back 2 the Wild Rehab. “I am very thankful to Consumers Energy to enter into this partnership with them and to release on their property. Wildlife belongs to Michigan. This is where they belong.”

It’s important to remember that not all fawns found alone are abandoned. Mothers hide fawns while they forage for food. Here are signs that a fawn has been abandoned:

  1. Healthy and cared for fawns will lay quiet and still, even if you approach them. This is their best survival mechanism. If they are walking around, crying and approaching humans, they may be abandoned.
  2. Fawns get hydration from nursing. A dehydrated fawn who has not eaten will have wrinkled ears – a sign you can see from a distance.
  3. Healthy and safe fawns will keep themselves clean from bugs. If a fawn is covered in ants, flies or other insects, it may need help.

If you believe a fawn has been abandoned, unless it is in immediate danger from other animals or vehicles, leave it where you found it and call the Michigan Department of Natural Resources or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for instructions.

Deer aren’t the only animals we look out for. Check out more of our work to protect our four-legged, furry, flying and other friends: