It’s a good thing a Georgia farmer was paying close attention when cutting his hayfield this week, because an unlucky fawn was laying well-hidden in harm’s way and wasn’t going to move.
From the seat of his tractor, Michael Kougioulis spotted the white-specked young deer rooted in place in the high grass and managed to stop before it was too late.
“Anyone who’s cutting your pastures, or tall grass, keep an eye out for these guys,” Kougioulis said in a Facebook post, sharing pictures of the fawn he whisked to safety. “They won’t move, you WILL hit them If you’re not careful.”
A doe will often leave their fawn alone while they go out to forage, placing them in areas where they will be safe until returning, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. By instinct, fawns stay exactly where their mother left them and sit motionless when they feel threatened. The urge to run, and the physical ability to do so, come as the deer grows older.
“Unlike human children they do as their mother says,” one woman commented.
To the mother deer, Kougioulis’ field must have seemed like a perfect spot for fawn — but she picked a bad day. It’s likely more than one doe made that mistake, as Kougioulis had to move two more fawns out of the way that day, according to his post.
“Keep them safe, they need your help,” he said.
Kougioulis’ rescue, and his warning to others, has been getting a lot of attention. As of Thursday, it has been shared more than 70,000 times and garnered nearly 950 comments.
Many thanked the farmer for saving the animals.
“I’ve seen so many not be so lucky!” a commenter wrote. “Good eyes you’ve got there! It is truly very difficult to see them.”
Plenty of folks simply gushed over the posted photos, adoring the deer, and sometimes, the man.
“Sweet. And so cute!” one commenter said. “The deer are cute too!”
“Ummm if you’re single make this your profile picture ASAP and watch the ladies come running!” said another.
Some expressed concern about the safety of the fawns, worried that their mothers would abandon them after Kougioulis handled them, thereby leaving his human scent.
This popular belief is a myth, according to wildlife experts: “The doe-fawn bond is very strong” and human or pet odors will not deter the mother from her young.
Generally speaking, fawns should be left alone. But if they have to be handled, such as if they’re in the path of an oncoming tractor, there are some things people should keep in mind.
“The fawn should be placed in or next to natural vegetation near the location where it was found to provide cover and protection. The doe will avoid the area until the disturbance has passed, after which she will search for the missing fawn,” experts say. “If more than 24 hours have passed, the fawn may need attention from a wildlife rehabilitator.”