“It’s a death sentence when people pick up a baby critter and turn it over to us.” That's the message Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesperson Joe Lewandowski had for a group of people who tried to help a week-old baby deer last weekend in the La Plata Mountains, the Denver Post reports. According to ABC News, the people believed the fawn had been abandoned by its mother, put it in their car, and drove it 30 miles to an animal shelter. Wildlife officers ended up euthanizing the baby deer, as that was "the most humane thing to do." “Turning it loose in the wild would be cruel, especially since we don't know where it had been taken from or where its mother is,” Lewandowski says. Wildlife officials also didn't have a way to keep the fawn alive or teach it how to keep itself alive in the wild.
Sadly, the baby deer would likely have been just fine had the group left it alone, People reports. Mother deer often leave their babies for a bit in order to feed themselves. “The way I like to put it is, ‘Mom is taking a break from the kids,'” Lewandowski tells the Post. It's very rare for deer to actually abandon their offspring. In fact, in the rare instances they do leave their offspring, it's usually because humans have moved or touched the fawn. Lewandowski says the group was probably just trying to help in this instance, and they won't be prosecuted. He compared the "unfortunate" incident to the bison calf who had to be euthanized after visitors to Yellowstone put it in their car, believing it was in trouble. (Similar tragedies have recently befallen harbor seal pups as well.)