Northwest Wildlife center releases fawns into wild

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDOctober 17, 2013 

Fawn Release

Members of the Northwest Wildlife Rehabilitation Center release seven orphaned fawns into the forest off Mosquito Lake Road east of Deming Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013. The center raised the orphaned fawns until they were able to live on their own in the wild.

JOE LALONDE — COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

DEMING - When Whatcom County fawns find themselves in a position not unlike the iconic animated deer Bambi - orphaned, injured and still sporting their spots - the Northwest Wildlife Rehabilitation Center steps in to give them a better chance at survival.

Seven such fawns were released near Glacier Sunday, Oct. 13, after spending this summer healing and growing at the center.

Between April and September fawns are born, and if they're lucky, they stay with their mothers for eight months before setting out on their own, said Alysha Elsby, center director.

Those who aren't so lucky may get picked up by the center. They live in a 300-square-foot enclosure until they lose their spots and meet a checklist of requirements. Then they're released into the wild.

"We make sure they're at 60 pounds, sustaining their weight, eating on their own, and running away when humans get near them," Elsby said.

Each of the deer released Sunday was no stranger to tragedy. One was hit by a train, another fell into an oil pit, and two were twins whose mother was hit by a semi truck. When they came to the center they ranged in age from hours old to two months, Elsby said. The hope is they'll now live as wildly as possible, without competing with other animals in that area, she said.

The wildlife center is a nonprofit located off Mount Baker Highway near Nugents Corner. Elsby is the sole staffer and works with a team of volunteers and interns throughout the year to care for all types of injured and orphaned animals, from squirrels to swans.

If you think you see an orphaned animal that needs help, call the center first for advice, Elsby said. Sometimes well-wishers take fawns, not knowing they're kidnapping them from their mothers, who often leave their offspring alone for hours at a time, Elsby said.

Reach the center at 360-966-8845 or northwestwildlife.org.

Reach Samantha Wohlfeil at 360-756-2803 or samantha.wohlfeil@bellinghamherald.com.

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