In our last newsletter we introduced you to "Momma Deer," our foster mother for orphaned fawns. This year Momma was in the news quite often as people stepped forward to help this wonderful animal who mothers babies that are not her own.
It began with Comcast employee, Mark Reed, who came to repair our service following a storm. Enamored with Momma Deer and her story, Mark enrolled Red Creek in the Comcast Cares volunteer event, an annual community service day where Comcast employees and their families volunteer to make a difference.
And make a difference they did! Saturday, April 30th, fifty volunteers with a "let's get it done" attitude descended upon Red Creek. By the end of the day, Momma Deer had a new home: a 1600 square foot environment with a natural forest floor and trees.
The next day Dr. Carol Yeisley, owner of Berks Veterinary Services, sedated Momma Deer and she was gently moved to her new enclosure. The timing was perfect because the new fawns began to arrive only two weeks later.
Momma Deer's maternal instincts kicked in again this year as eleven fawns were introduced to her to foster. As in years past, she took to each one with patience and protectiveness. All eleven thrived and grew strong and agile in the much larger enclosure.
Each year of rehabilitating fawns is memorable, and we know it is successful because each year the fawns return to Momma Deer's pen and socialize. Now wild and free, their connection to their foster mother allows us the opportunity to keep tabs on them from a distance. Even as adults, several deer from previous years continue to return and visit Momma.
Release time for the fawns is always the hardest. They still look so very young and fragile and we worry about predators and automobiles. It is a time when we need to let go and allow them to become independent wild animals but their future is uncertain. Momma Deer must remain behind and can no longer protect and guide them. This year, however, was different and gave us great comfort as nature stepped in to help make the new fawns' transition much easier.
For the past two years an adult doe has been faithfully visiting Momma Deer. Most likely a fawn she raised in 2009, this doe has chosen Red Creek's forest as her permanent home. This spring was different, for although she still visited, this year she brought three fawns of her own.
Our goal is to not only help the animals we receive heal for release, but to help them take their natural place in the world as if nothing had interrupted their lives in the first place. It is wonderful to see the animals we rehabilitate thrive in the wild, but to witness one actually having a family of their own is to witness the COMPLETE success of our rehabilitation program. This deer and her fawns gave us great joy as we watched the wild triplets grow at the same time Momma was raising the eleven.
We caught sight of this wild mother doe and her triplets grazing in a nearby field a few days after we released the eleven. She was alert to her surroundings and the triplets watched her closely. Suddenly we noticed several more fawn leaving the forest to join her in the field. Were Momma's fawns following them? Would this wild doe accept them?
The answer was clear a few days later when our field camera caught the doe visiting Momma and (within the same frame) SIX fawns. When Momma's job ended, this doe took to the task of fostering the new fawns and teaching them about being free. They still all visit Momma and hopefully will someday have families of their very own.