We have a deer in backyard with new fawns. Leave the gate open or not?
May 21, 2019 11:19 AM   Subscribe

There is a deer with baby fawns in our back garden. Sometimes the fawns get shutout of the garden near a road / separated from their mum. Should we just leave gates open to prevent this, or take active measures to discourage them entirely?

We have a female deer with two new fawns in our backyard - we have a front gate towards the road and a back gate to a open space preserve behind us. Mum can jump the fences easily but the fawns can't. We left the back gate open and closed it when the deer left, but mum keeps jumping back in. To be clear we aren't trying to feed or care for the deer and are leaving them alone as best we can. Just concerned that the fawns end up separated from mum on the roadside (which they can access from the open space natural preserve) with a negative outcome. I found one wedged up against one of my car wheels the other day.

We can't add more fencing (not our house, multiple neighboring properties, fences way too long, etc). We aren't worried about the plants being eaten / poop etc. We are happy for them to be there, leave them be, and for them to move along when they are ready to do so. Trying to figure out if best to just leave the gates open and let them come and go as needed, or if that is just causing a long term attachment to the property for them and better to close gates and just let nature take its course. Or take some other active measures. There are plenty of deer around the area we live - and typically by summer they will move back into the hills above us having eaten the new spring growth in people's gardens....so we do expect they will move along at some stage in the next month or so. If it was just regular deer, I'd close the gates and hope they find an easier garden to get in/out of - its only the new fawns that are preventing me do this
posted by inflatablekiwi to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Mama deer seems to think your garden is a safe spot for her fawns. I don't think you opening or closing the gate is going to make that big of a difference...if I were in your shoes I'd leave the back gate open to give them access to the yard without having to go around front / near the road. Definitely don't think some other active measures are required.
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:27 AM on May 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Are the fawns getting into your yard with the gate closed? If so, then assuredly they can get out when they need to.

Don't worry much about momma being separated from the babies - apparently it's common for momma deer to leave fawns throughout the day. The fawns will stay where she's left them, and quite often deer consider people's back yards to be safe spaces. If the fawn ears are pointy, everything is fine. If the fawn has been left too long, apparently the tips start to sag, and that's a sign that wildlife rescue might need to get involved.

If the fawns don't make it into your yard with the gate closed, then I'd leave the gate open if I noticed them in the yard, but you should feel free to close the gate when they're not in your yard. Momma deer will find some place else to leave the kids, and eventually pick them up again.
posted by nobeagle at 11:44 AM on May 21, 2019 [10 favorites]

Unless they're eating plants you're trying to grow, I would leave the gate open. What's the down side to having a deer family with a long-term attachment to your back garden? It sounds like a dream to me. BABY DEER.
posted by something something at 11:54 AM on May 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

We can't possibly answer this without pictures.
posted by at at 11:57 AM on May 21, 2019 [38 favorites]

You can leave the gate open or closed. They are wily and will fend for themselves just fine. It's quite difficult to actively discourage them. Just pray they don't make it a habit. Otherwise:

> What's the down side to having a deer family with a long-term attachment to your back garden?

And this year, Bonus: Cougars in town. Guess what cougars like to eat?
posted by humboldt32 at 12:12 PM on May 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

We can't possibly answer this without pictures.

Not great photos but can I present mum and baby. The baby photo I took the other day after almost squishing the poor thing with the garage door....it was wedged up hard against the door when I opened it and just starting dropping the door again when I noticed some ears popping up.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 12:14 PM on May 21, 2019 [48 favorites]

If you feel like it would be safer for the fawns to be able to follow their mom into the garden (and it sounds like it would be), then sure, leave the gate open. It sounds like the mom already has an attachment to the property and probably doesn't care that much that the fawns can't get in, so I doubt it will make much difference to how often they visit.
posted by Redstart at 12:19 PM on May 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

NOT GREAT?? Those are perfect!!
posted by Melismata at 12:20 PM on May 21, 2019 [9 favorites]

I don't have advice, but I wanted you to know that your photos made my whole row at work say, "AWWWWWW!"
posted by xingcat at 12:26 PM on May 21, 2019 [9 favorites]

Um... are any of your neighbors going to be upset that you are establishing a deer feeding station? Just something to consider.
posted by amtho at 1:38 PM on May 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

The baby: SQUEEE.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:40 PM on May 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have deer all over the place and I both love them and hate them. I love them because they are cute, and regardless of how populous they are there is something fascinating about big(-ish) wildlife in your garden. I hate them because I've had borelliosis infections several times and one of the times it was severe.
Anyway, my solution has been to fence in my front yard. It was much easier than fencing in the back yard, and it means I have a tick free area where children can play and I can grow herbs and stuff, while I can still wake up in the morning with a deer grazing in front of my garden door. Or a hare, as it was the other day.
Also, I'm planting lavender in the backyard, and planning to plant other stuff the deer won't eat, so I have something to look at. I don't have any traffic or neighbor issues, so can't speak to those.

BTW, I am not a hunting person, but a guy came over and noticed that the deer were sleeping in my back yard. He told me that in the old days, people would deliberately build where they could see the "nests" of deer, because those places were dry and healthy.
posted by mumimor at 3:14 PM on May 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Deer carry Lyme disease, which is not a good thing. Be vigilant about ticks.
posted by theora55 at 6:22 PM on May 21, 2019

Another vote for leaving the gate open and enjoying your front row view to the miracles of spring.
posted by scrubjay at 6:53 PM on May 21, 2019

Thanks all. Left the back gate open - didn’t see any deer for most of the day. Then opened the garage door to put the recycling out and found my friend wedged in *again*. So I guess the deer are just going to do what the deer are going to do.... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by inflatablekiwi at 7:48 AM on May 22, 2019 [7 favorites]

As nobeagle explains nicely, it looks like Mum has chosen your garage as "daycare" while she goes off and forages for food. It's common for her to leave fawns in specific spots on a regular basis. You should be honored.
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:59 AM on May 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

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