MORGANTON, NC (WBTV) - Nancy Whisenant has been a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for more than two decades. She has cared for everything from bunnies, to bear cubs, to deer.
She is called on by Wildlife Resource Officers when wild animals are killed on a highway or elsewhere and their babies are left behind. So far this year, she has cared for more than 80 bunnies and 20 fawns. Her job is to raise them in a way that they can be released into the wild at some point.
Last week a call came in from Asheville stating that a fawn needed to be cared for. Though she has done it hundreds of times before, this case is different. The fawn is the smallest she has ever seen, she said.
"Much smaller than a normal newborn," she says.
Most newborn deer are in the six-pound range. This female fawn was less than three. Whisenant says in the week that she had had it, the fawn's prognosis has improved markedly. It was thin and full of maggots when she got it, but now the tiny deer is eating and thriving.
Whisenant says this is the busiest time of year for cases like this, and she wants to remind people that unless they are experts with a license in wildlife rehabilitation, taking care of an animal like a fawn is illegal.
"If they catch you, you will be fined," she said.
She also says most people do not have the training or proper food for the animals and could, in fact, kill it when trying to care for it.
Anyone who comes across a young wild animal should call a North Carolina Wildlife Resources Officer. They will determine if the animal needs the special care that Whisenant can provide.
In many cases, she says, nothing has happened to the mother and, "She will be back." In the case of bear cubs being found, it can actually be dangerous to get near them because "Its momma won't like that."