(ANIMAL CARE) CALIFORNIA — The combination of people residing in deer territory and the expansion of the deer population puts these animals into potentially dangerous situations. In response, Diane Nicholas founded Kindred Animal Spirits Fawn Rescue to rehabilitate injured fawns. Read on to learn more about the great work being done, the challenges facing the nonprofit organization, and how you can help protect fawns. — Global Animal
The Loomis News, Bridget Jones
A Loomis-based organization is hoping to give orphaned and injured fawns a second chance.
Diane Nicholas started Kindred Spirits Fawn Rescue Jan. 1, but is facing some roadblocks after a separation from Gold Country Wildlife Rescue.
“Kindred Spirits is a nonprofit organization focused totally on the rescue, rehabilitation and release of fawns,” Nicholas said. “There was another group that was (rescuing) fawns. They discontinued, suspended the fawn program. So, at that point, since this is the passion of my life, I decided to go through the process of obtaining a permit through (Department of) Fish and Game, and then I went through all the appropriate state and federal governments to get the nonprofit status. So as of Jan. 1, this is our first year of Kindred Spirits.”
The organization serves Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties.
So far this season the organization has five rescued fawns, but normally Nicholas works with 50 to 60 rescuees, she said.
Nicholas said the Loomis property is two-and-a-half acres and includes indoor and outdoor areas for the deer.
Nicholas said the animals sometimes come to her through dire situations.
“The first fawn I got in this year, the people named it Lucky,” she said. “The farmer was out on his tractor and happened to look over at the irrigation canals … and saw this fawn frantically trying to get out of it as it was floating down this irrigation ditch. He and another fellow caught it before it went into one of those pipes that would take it under the freeway.”
The fawn had an abscess and cuts on its hooves and legs, but is now doing fine, Nicholas said.
“She is doing great,” she said. “She’s eating. In fact the vet checked her the other day and said she’s a hearty one. She’s doing fabulous.”
Another pair of babies came in after their mother abandoned them for some unknown reason, which has happened in the past with the same mother, Nicholas said.
“She leaves them, and the babies get dehydrated,” she said. “And we try everything to see if she will come back to them. So, we have got those two this time. The babies themselves didn’t have a sucking response. It took me two days to get them to nurse. Now they are doing great. It’s a buck and doe. The little boy is just eating like a champ.”
Nicholas said there are several things residents can use to help keep fawns safe in their natural environments.
“It’s the dogs for instance,” she said. “At this time of year dogs look at a fawn that’s romping around as a toy, and so they will go after them. They end up giving them puncture wounds, and nine times out of 10 those fawns that come to us don’t make it because (the wounds) turn into air pockets that run up and down their flesh. So, (it would be good) if people could keep their dogs contained. With the wrought iron fencing we always suggest people put up some kind of chicken wire … so the fawn doesn’t try to follow their mother through when she has jumped over the fence.”
Nicholas said deer can sometimes impale themselves on wrought iron fences, and she is currently working with the Loomis Planning Commission to incorporate different fencing into future projects in the town.
Nicholas has other matters to work on as well.
John Kirkpatrick, president of Gold Country Wildlife Rescue, said his organization is working with an attorney to get loaned fawn rehabilitation equipment back from Nicholas or have her pay $20,000 instead. Kirkpatrick said no civil lawsuit or police report has been filed.
“The reason we don’t have a fawn program this year is that Diane Nicholas is still operating with the equipment we loaned to her when she did a service for Gold Country Wildlife Rescue,” Kirkpatrick said.
Kirkpatrick said Nicholas decided to go out on her own and kept the equipment.
Nicholas said she left Gold Country Wildlife Rescue because it suspended its fawn rescue program. The Journal obtained a copy of a letter sent from Kirkpatrick to Nicholas in August 2010 stating that the program would be suspended in 2011 due to budget restrictions.
Nicholas said she has the equipment in storage, but she is not using it for Kindred Spirits.
“I’m not using any of their equipment,” she said. “It’s all in storage waiting for this thing to settle down.”
Dona Leal, treasurer for Kindred Spirits, said it’s amazing to see the fawns be released back into the wild after they have recovered.
“It’s kind of bitter sweet,” Leal said. “You can tell Diane does become very attached, but by the same token it’s like a mother letting her kids go. To see them go, it’s incredible, especially knowing the ones that have had cataracts or broken bones. To see that they have fully recovered and they are ready to go back out and become a part of the eco system again is just phenomenal.”
Denise Meehan is a relief volunteer for the organization.
“These little orphans, they didn’t ask to be orphans,” Meehan said. “They are just victims of circumstance. They want nothing more than to be back with their mamas, but we can’t do that. What I like is we offer them a very safe environment with good nutrition, good healthcare and as close to the right socialization as they can have. It gives them a second chance. I like that we’re a part of giving them a second chance.”