Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Let Fawns & Wildlife Be

A fawn lying in tall grass

Hello fellow readers,

In the late afternoon, I heard a young fawn crying and thought Jolee was out and about interrupting the flow of things. Translated, I thought perhaps she was intruding upon the sleeping fawn. But Jolee was inside basking in the sun coming in from the storm door, which she loves to do. Folks often think a crying fawn means they are abandoned, but rarely is that the case, bringing to mind a story a handful of years ago reminding us to let fawns and wildlife be. It was during a week without internet and cell service after a Wizard of Oz-like storm.

There are benefits to being unplugged. It heightens the sounds in nature, the pleasure of feeling the earth in our hands and noticing the miracles around us, like marveling over making more plants by dividing them and sharing them with others.

a newly born fawn walking for the first time.

Fawn’s first steps…steady she goes!

Miss Ellie Mae was my sidekick then and in her later years. She’d often rest and watch over me as I gardened. While weeding, I heard a fawn cry and saw the speckled baby only thirty feet away, her spindly legs wobbly as she walked and cried under the wood line. Over and over, pitiful sounds with no momma in view.

Fawns are left for four to six hours while their mothers forage. They lie perfectly still in the first five days after birth, and we must stay clear. They’re born scent-free, which protects them from predators, so leaving a human scent puts them at risk. Concerned the cries would also call predators, I moved to weed elsewhere.


The Angels of Antler Ridge

Antler Ridge, a revered wildlife sanctuary in Frelinghuysen, NJ, advised, “Every year, especially during the spring and early summer, the lives of many young animals are disrupted. Well-intentioned people attempt to ‘save’ animals, and more often than not, the mother is nearby witnessing her young being taken.”

It’s hard to imagine the heartbreak caused by folks thinking they are helping.

Antler Ridge warned, “Don’t give the animal food or water. Do NOT feed it infant formula— it will kill the animal you are trying to help!”

Only when wildlife is injured, or a deceased mother is nearby is there a reason to assist by contacting your state’s Division of Fish & Wildlife.

Kelly Simonetti, founder of Antler Ridge Wildlife Sanctuary with beautiful silver hair in a bun holding a fawn

Kelly Simonetti- a Founder of Antler Ridge

Imagine all the wildlife Antler Ridge helped heal.

There’s a sad update on Antler Ridge Wildlife Sanctuary. It closed recently after the passing of Kelly Simonetti in November 2022. Kelly founded the organization 20 years ago with her husband, Jim. While their website is no longer, her contribution remains. Their Facebook Page writes: You can continue to help wildlife in need of assistance by either contacting your local Animal Control Officer or a Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator.

It tugs at our hearts to see the introductory video featuring Kelly Simonetti toting a fawn on their YouTube channel that’s still up. What a beautiful soul—imagine all the animals she and her mission team helped heal.

While fawns grow into one of our biggest garden dilemmas, we have a soft spot for the miracles of wildlife. They belong on our dear earth sharing the gifts of nature. So let fawns and wildlife be, and perhaps plant some plants for pilfering. Yes, darling deer, I suppose that means for you too.

Garden Dilemmas? and your favorite Podcast App.

There’s much more to the story in the Garden Dilemma’s Podcast

Link to the original story, Gifts of Nature, with an account of our family history of plant pilfering.  

Link to Antler Ridge Wildlife Sanctuary’s YouTube channel.




Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary
  1. So Elite Reply

    Beautifully written! I learnt a new word, had no idea deer babies were called fawn. It’s only a few days ago that I went to a park in my city and there were many different species of deer around me.

    • Mary Stone Reply

      Thank you! It’s interesting to hear deer are living in a city park. But as populations grow and their natural habitat are taken over by developments, I can see why. Thank you for reading my column post, Mary Stone

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