Sherman nonprofit rehabilitates abandoned fawns
Updated 9:57 am, Tuesday, July 11, 2017
SHERMAN — Most drivers fly by roadside carcasses, but for Debbie Corcione, dead deer and other roadkill provoke a question: Where are the animals’ little ones?
Corcione — through her nonprofit Wildlife-Line — seeks to give lost fawns and fox kits a second chance. She accepts only animals that she is sure are abandoned — those alone for more than a day or crying next to a lifeless mother.
“The best is if we can reunite the fawns with their mothers,” she said. “Nobody does a better job than mom, but if they’re left alone and in rough shape, we just give them another chance.”
Wildlife-Line is based in Corcione’s Sherman basement. Six donated pens that house squirrels and foxes, racoons and deer, dot her rocky backyard.
She fields some five to 10 calls a day from throughout the region about animals in distress, and rehabilitates some 35 animals every year. Wildlife-Line is one of only three such centers statewide approved for fawns by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
If you see an abandoned fawn
Debbie Corcione, founder of Wildlife-Line in Sherman, said you should interact with a fawn only as last resort. Does often leave fawns alone for several hours, she said.
If the fawn is crying and has been alone for more than a day, or it is lingering near a lifeless adult deer, call wildlife rehabilitation centers such as Wildlife-Line, or the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
“If you don’t see a dead mom, it’s probably not helpless,” she said. “It’s likely just waiting for mom to come back.”
This summer, Wildlife-Line’s ninth, is proving to be a busy one, Corcione said. The nonprofit has already accepted 13 fawns, two baby foxes and three baby raccoons, close to the annual record.
Some dozen volunteers and a steady flow of donations help keep the place running, even when Corcione is at work as a full-time pet-sitter.
On Monday, two new volunteers helped Corcione with the fawns’ midday feeding of goat’s milk.
Aron Travis, of Danbury, kept coming back to volunteer after he dropped off fawn No. 7 — who he calls Meeps — some six weeks ago. Travis found Meeps crying next to its dead mother on Route 37 and didn’t know what to do, he said.
“I called around and I came across Debbie,” said Travis who brought his daughter Autumn to help Monday. “And I keep coming back.”
It’s not easy to nurse the animals back to health, Corcione said. Rehabilitation alone costs about $750 per animal per season, even after local veterinarians donate their time and an area goat farm supplies milk for free.
For example, Dizzy — a fawn that had barely survived a dog attack — had to be nursed by hand until it could handle life in a large pen with nine other fawns.
At some point, Corcione and the volunteers have to take a step back and let the animals fend for themselves. Most are released into the wild after several months.
“That’s the hardest part,” she said, adding that volunteers try to limit interaction with the young deer to feeding time. Even then, they keep it brief, so the deer don’t become too comfortable with humans.
In January, Corcione will mark a decade of fawn rehabilitation. But there’s no time to rest, she said. On Monday afternoon, Corcione was awaiting word whether a volunteer could drive an abandoned fawn from Salem, Conn., to safety in Sherman.
“It takes a village,” she said. “It really, really does.”
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