From the Field

Connecting YOU with Wildlife – Pennsylvania Game Commission

Saving a Life- How to Feed and Care for a Fawn

Being little is hard. Here’s how to lend a helping hand.


Babies of all shapes and sizes are popping up everywhere.  Fawns are arguably the cutest ones of the bunch. But they are so little and helpless and often abandoned.  If you come across one of these frail creatures, here’s how you can help.

LEAVE IT ALONE! A “saved” fawn is a dead fawn.

The peak of fawning season for adult does (>1 year old) is May 30 with 90% giving birth from May 12th to June 27th.  For fawns (those bred when they were 6 months old and giving birth at 1 year old), the peak is June 19 with 90% giving birth from May 22nd to August 4th.

There are going to be a lot of fawns out there soon. They are not abandoned.  They are not in trouble.  They do not need to be saved by any person!

During the first few weeks of life, does only associate with their fawns briefly usually at sunrise and sunset with fawns nursing only 2 or 3 times a day.  A Fawn selects its own bedding location away from its mother and moves this hiding place frequently ALL BY ITSELF.  The doe is usually within about 90 meters of her resting fawn and makes contact only to nurse.

People often think fawns are abandoned or cold or sick or lonely.  Do it a favor and leave it alone. This is the best way to increase its odds of survival.

Because bad things happened when people mess with wildlife – like imprinting.  Have you read the recent story of the bison calf loaded in a tourist’s SUV in Yellowstone because they thought it looked cold?  Instead of saving the calf, they signed its death certificate.

A doe will imprint upon her fawns in a few hours.  If this critical period is interrupted, the imprinting process breaks down and may lead to abandonment.  But, fawns take several days or longer to imprint on mom.  During this interim, fawns risk being attracted to almost any large moving object – even people.  That’s why does are secretive and aggressive during fawn rearing.

It may be difficult but people need to let fawns be.  If, in fact, the fawn has been abandoned for some reason, nature will “take its course.”  Based on research conducted in Pennsylvania, 57 percent of fawns born in north central Pennsylvania (forested areas) and 72 percent of fawns born in central Pennsylvania (agricultural areas) survive through the summer.  This means that between 28-43% of fawns will not live to 6 months of age in Pennsylvania. The majority of this mortality occurs before they are 3 months old.  Mortality factors include predators, starvation, failure to nurse, infections, and parasites.  It is a harsh reality.

However, in the wild, fawns have a fighting chance. In the arms of a person, they are as good as dead.

So lend a helping hand by keeping YOUR HANDS to yourself. Look but do not touch and you can save a life!

Jeannine Tardiff Fleegle

Wildlife Biologist, Deer & Elk Section

Pennsylvania Game Commission



Osprey Nest Survey

This year, the Pennsylvania Game Commission is conducting a statewide survey of osprey nests. The osprey is one of Pennsylvania’s most popular raptors. Like the bald eagle, it is a charismatic bird of conservation concern that is strongly associated with aquatic habitats. Yet often it is found near humans. Unique in appearance, it is truly the “people’s fish hawk.”


Osprey Nest Photo by Joe Kosack

If you know the location of a pair of nesting ospreys, please contact us. The osprey population has grown steadily since its reintroduction in the 1980s. Although the Game Commission has located more than 100 nests in recent years, some nests have been overlooked. That is why we need your assistance. The osprey nest survey is an initiative that would not be possible without the help of volunteers. More information about the survey can be found on the Game Commission’s website.  Just download the Osprey Nest Survey Form along with the Nest Observation Protocol, and submit it to

We would appreciate your reports of active osprey nests by July 31. A statewide osprey survey was completed in 2010 and at least 115 nests were found. Since then, ospreys have continued to expand into new areas. We would like to learn of these new nests. Please do not assume that a nest location you know has been covered by somebody else. The coordinates of the nest support structure are important to include as well. Use online mapping programs to find the coordinates.


Distribution of Pennsylvania osprey nests and associated secondary drainages. Nests active in 2014, x, or active at least one year since 1990, +, Hydrologic unit boundaries (HUC6), yellow lines. County boundaries, black lines. -By Patti Barber

Your osprey nest data will be used to update the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program database and also enable us to better understand the status of this state-threatened species and its management potential. We intend to find at least 10 active nesting pairs in at least four different watershed clusters. That is a modest goal that we are confident that we can achieve with your assistance. Thank you in advance for your willingness to help us with this important survey.

By: Doug Gross, Pennsylvania Game Commission Ornithologist, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Diversity team

For more information on ospreys read the comprehensive description, recovery and management plan and a recent Pennsylvania eBird article.

Bald Eagle Nest Etiquette


Photo: Hal Korber

There are few sights more thrilling than a bald eagle at its nest or in action along a shoreline. Responsibilities come with this enjoyment. As you enjoy eagles, you must ensure your presence and behavior do not have a detrimental effect on the eagles or their future use of the area.

Eagle nests and young eagles are easily disturbed. By causing a premature fledging, you can inadvertently cause injury or death of an eaglet that can not yet fly or defend itself. In the cold winter, energy is a very valuable commodity for eagles. Flushing eagles from a roost site or a feeding ground causes unnecessary stress and may expose the eagle to additional predators.

So please keep your distance from eagle nests and roosts. Respect their space. Enjoy their presence at a distance with good optics. Please consider the following general etiquette guidelines for avoiding eagle disturbances:

Stay Back- Keep at least 1,000 feet from an active nest, roost, or feeding area. Use optics like binoculars or a telescope to view the eagles at a distance.

Remain Quiet- If you must talk, whisper.

Cover Up- Use your vehicle or boat as a blind; eagles often are more alarmed by pedestrians.

Avoid Sudden Movements – Do not move quickly or toward the eagles or the nest while on foot or in a vehicle or boat.

Do Not Try to Make the Birds Fly-Flushing an eagle off a nest may expose the eggs or young eaglets to cold or wet weather or a nest predator. It also wastes precious energy and may cause them to leave a valuable meal behind or abandon a nest that they are constructing.

Pay attention-Watch how the eagle reacts to your presence – if it acts agitated, vocalizes repeatedly, or starts moving away, you are too close.

Stay out-Respect restricted zones. They protect eagle nesting areas. And you are breaking state and federal laws if you enter them.

Respect the Privacy of the Landowner-Do not tell everyone about a new eagle nest. It will attract people to nesting areas who may not use proper etiquette and bring other unnecessary attention to a nest. If you unexpectedly stumble onto an eagle nest, or hear an eagle vocalizing overhead, leave immediately and quietly.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

#PGCeaglecam NEWS


3/30/16 UPDATE

It appears the eaglet that hatched on Monday night on the ‪#‎PGCeaglecam‬ did not survive. As we’ve noted, the live stream provides an opportunity to view wildlife in its natural setting. Sometimes, that may include scenes that are difficult to watch.

The Game Commission will not intervene in this situation. Federal safeguards exist to protect nesting eagles. Persons encroaching a 660-foot perimeter around a nest are in violation of federal law. At this point, we will continue to monitor the nest and the second egg


An eaglet has made its appearance on the ‪#‎PGCeaglecam‬! View the nest activities LIVE here: Visit to view the infrared camera.

This is a joint project between the Pennsylvania Game Commission, HDOnTap, ComcastBusiness, Codorus State Park, Friends of Codorus State Park and others. Thank you for your support of Pennsylvania wildlife.

Pennsylvania Bald Eagles Webinar


Join the Pennsylvania Game Commission for a webinar on Mar 25, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT.

Register now!

The Pennsylvania Game Commission Endangered Bird Specialist Patti Barber will be discussing the habits, biology and population of Pennsylvania bald eagles. The session will include a short PowerPoint (15-20 minutes) followed by a short question and answer period (10-15 minutes).

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. View System Requirements

2015-16 Deer Harvest Estimates

Results are now available for the 2015-16 deer seasons, which closed in January. Hunters harvested an estimated 315,813 deer – an increase of about 4 percent compared to the 2014-15 harvest of 303,973.

DSC_0160Agency staff currently is working to develop 2016-17 antlerless deer license allocation recommendations, which will be considered at the April 5 meeting of the Board of Game Commissioners. Wayne Laroche, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Management director, said that in addition to harvest data, staff will be looking at deer health measures, forest regeneration and deer-human conflicts for each WMU. Total deer harvest estimates by WMU for 2015-16 (with 2014-15 figures in parentheses) are as follows:

WMU 1A: 6,000 (5,100) antlered, 9,100 (10,800) antlerless;

WMU 1B: 6,900 (5,800) antlered, 7,700 (8,800) antlerless;

WMU 2A: 6,500 (5,100) antlered, 10,500 (9,600) antlerless;

WMU 2B: 5,200 (4,300) antlered, 15,000 (13,000) antlerless;

WMU 2C: 9,100 (7,000) antlered, 8,490 (9,029) antlerless;

WMU 2D: 12,300 (11,400) antlered, 15,700 (16,400) antlerless;

WMU 2E: 4,700 (4,400) antlered, 5,300 (5,600) antlerless;

WMU 2F: 7,000 (6,000) antlered, 5,400 (5,900) antlerless;

WMU 2G: 6,100 (4,800) antlered, 4,100 (4,700) antlerless;

WMU 2H: 1,400 (1,700) antlered, 1,400 (1,100) antlerless;

WMU 3A: 4,300 (3,300) antlered, 4,000 (4,300) antlerless;

WMU 3B: 6,800 (6,000) antlered, 7,400 (8,100) antlerless;

WMU 3C: 7,600 (6,500) antlered, 10,500 (10,300) antlerless;

WMU 3D: 3,500 (4,200) antlered, 3,700 (5,200) antlerless;

WMU 4A: 5,100 (3,300) antlered, 8,670 (6,805) antlerless;

WMU 4B: 5,700 (4,600) antlered, 7,000 (5,600) antlerless;

WMU 4C: 5,400 (4,800) antlered, 5,000 (5,000) antlerless;

WMU 4D: 7,200 (6,500) antlered, 7,443 (6,848) antlerless;

WMU 4E: 6,200 (5,800) antlered, 6,900 (5,900) antlerless;

WMU 5A: 2,900 (2,400) antlered, 4,600 (3,300) antlerless;

WMU 5B: 8,000 (6,900) antlered, 11,500 (12,400) antlerless;

WMU 5C: 7,400 (8,000) antlered, 13,600 (22,200) antlerless;

WMU 5D: 2,200 (1,300) antlered, 5,200 (3,800) antlerless; and

Unknown WMU: 80 (60) antlered, 30 (31) antlerless.

Read the full estimated deer harvest news release including the season-specific breakdown here.

Hunters Reminded to Report Banded Pheasants


Photo by Bob Boyd

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is finalizing a study to assess harvest rates of ring-necked pheasants raised on game farms, then released to provide hunting opportunities in Pennsylvania.


Game Commission wildlife biometrician Josh Johnson said about 5,500 pheasants were banded before release on public lands last fall.

It’s crucial for the success of this study that hunters report leg band information from harvested birds, or even from those found dead from other causes, by March 31, 2016, by calling the toll-free number on the band. After March 31, 2016, the toll-free number will be closed and reward redemption will expire.

Johnson said he’s pleased with the reporting response so far, as more than 2,000 bands have been reported.

“We thank all the dedicated hunters who have taken the time to report their pheasant bands. Reporting bands provides important information that will be used to assess future stocking strategies, and it shows support for the pheasant stocking program,” he said.

A similar study on pheasant harvest rates was conducted in the fall of 1998. That study found about 50 percent of pheasants stocked by the Game Commission were harvested.

Since then, however, many changes to pheasant-stocking strategies have been implemented. These changes aim for higher harvest rates, but harvest rates have not been evaluated since the changes took place.

Results from this current study will shed further light to redefine the pheasant-stocking program.

A report summarizing the analyzed data from the leg bands should be available this fall.