Last Tuesday was Hallie Clark’s second day interning with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), and she spent part of it herding three speedy, skittish fawns to safety along a busy road.
The three fawns, likely a set of twins and a fawn from another doe, found themselves outside the fence surrounding the Bonneville Power Administration facility on West 10th Street while a doe wandered around inside the enclosure.
ODFW was quickly called to the scene, as one of the fawns squealed in distress.
Clark arrived with district wildlife biologist Andrew Meyers, whose sole objective was to get the fawns into the BPA enclosure with the doe and away from the busy road.
Clark said the doe and fawns would eventually figure out a way out of the enclosure once they weren’t being stressed by people hovering around. “It doesn’t take much of a hole for them to be able to sneak out.”
A call was placed to BPA for someone to open the locked gate to let the fawns in. But as luck would have it, a woman who lives across the street was heading to work — with the company that does lawn maintenance for the BPA site.
Dani Lawson, who works for FLI Landscaping, had seen people standing around and grew curious, so she headed across the street. Turns out she had a key to the gate, and she carefully approached it, as two of the three fawns cowered in a corner nearby.
Those two fawns quickly entered the enclosure after the gate opened, but a third fawn proved problematic and continually escaped after getting herded to the gate by Meyers, Clark, Lawson and a reporter.
Meyers told the bystanders to walk slowly, with arms wide, to herd the fawns.
This wasn’t Meyers’ first wildlife-herding rodeo, but he did say it took a bit longer than his other efforts to herd wild animals to safety.
After one escape, the errant fawn briefly darted onto 10th Street, but all ended well on the third attempt to shoo it through the gate.
Meyers said a key message to the public is to not pick up seemingly abandoned fawns. They are just staying put while mom goes off to feed.
“This happens every year when fawns are dropping,” he said. They are born between late May and mid-June. He estimated these fawns were about a week old.
When people pick up fawns, “their hearts are in the right place but the best bet for the fawn to have a normal life is to leave them there.”
He said in a good year, which depends on a lot of factors, 60 percent of fawns make it through their first winter. “They are very susceptible at that time and a lot of them do die,” he said. “And we don’t see most of that. But it happens all the time in nature.”
Meyers said twins are not uncommon for deer, but “triplets are super rare. So it could’ve been that those belonged to a different mother that was nearby and she got spooked away. After the dust settles and people clear out of the area, she’ll come back and try to find them.”
Clark, the intern, is a Portland resident who is entering her senior year at Oregon State University where she is majoring in fish and wildlife.
After noting it was just her second day, Clark said, “It’s been very eventful here.”