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Rescuer tries to save orphaned fawn

ROME TOWNSHIP — A hunter taking a deer out of season Monday afternoon left two orphans — one apparently lost to the woods and the other now struggling to stay alive.

Dwayne Bench of the Rome Township Volunteer Fire Department was at his house when he found out about the orphaned fawns.

“Somebody stopped by to say they saw that somebody had shot a doe and loaded it into a truck and left the two fawns,” Bench said.

That was at State Route 775 and Reeves Creek, near Bench’s house.

“I drove around and it took me about an hour and a half to catch the one,” he said.

What he was able to capture was a doe fawn approximately 16 inches tall.

“It was just barely starting to walk,” Bench said.

The other fawn was nowhere to be found.

Bench originally was going to take the deer to the Proctorville Animal Clinic, but learned that in the State of Ohio a deer can’t be rehabilitated. The animal would either have to be put back in the wild or euthanized, according to Ohio law.

“We had some major failure in rehabilitation,” Darin Abbott, state wildlife officer for Lawrence County, said. “There was a high mortality rate. The decision was made to pursue a law change. We feel they are best kept in the wild. … the less human contact the better chance of survival.”

Bench wanted to see if the fawn could be saved, however, so he took it to the Ashland Animal Clinic where Dr. David Pinkston was already caring for two other baby deer that had been left without a mother.

“They had two more deer just a little bit bigger than the one I rescued,” Bench said.

After Bench left the fawn with Pinkston’s staff, he and some of his buddies from the fire department went back to the woods to try to find the fawn’s twin.

“We literally searched for four hours,” he said.

But they couldn’t find the other baby.

Being brought injured or orphaned wildlife is not such an unusual occurrence for Dr. Mike Dyer of the Proctorville Animal Clinic. Under many circumstances, however, the rescuers are well-meaning, but misguided.

“It is a very common problem that there are fawns that are seemingly orphaned,” Dyer said. “But the doe has bedded them down and gone off to eat. Most of the fawns aren’t orphaned. The doe is nearby. When you know it is orphaned, it is OK to intervene. In this case, they did the right thing, if it is a known orphan. Otherwise let them alone.”

Right now the fawn Bench rescued has to be force-fed because it is too weak to nurse. Often in a case like this the animal will not survive.

Bench rescued the fawn because he wanted to preserve wildlife.

“I am a hunter,” he said. “I hunt when it is in season. But I don’t know why they would do this in the first place. It is so hot the meat would even spoil before they could get it processed. This was a baby. There are legal ways to do things. (Rescuing) it was the right thing to do.”