Two RCMP officers saved the life of an unborn fawn early Saturday morning, just minutes after they accidentally hit the fawn's mother with their vehicle and killed it.
Const. Derek Bigger and Aux. Const. Darren Forsyth were on patrol on Wyse Road in Meaghers Grant, N.S., 50 kilometres northeast of Halifax, at about 2:30 a.m. local time when the deer unexpectedly ran in front of their police car.
"It happened so fast, like I didn't even have time to turn, hit the brakes, nothing," said Bigger, noting the road was quite foggy at the time.
After the collision, the officers turned the vehicle around and went to check on the deer. While the deer was dead, they noticed it had expelled its amniotic sac.
"The fawn was inside of it and it was trying to kick and push and stuff," said Bigger.
Forsyth held a flashlight and Bigger used a knife to slowly cut open the sac to ensure the fawn did not get cut.
"Its eyes popped open and it started breathing," said Bigger.
From there, he cut the umbilical cord and then used a bottle of water to clean off the fawn and get dirt and gravel off of it.
Hope Swinimer of Hope for Wildlife, an animal rehab facility, received a call from a police dispatcher, saying the officers were on their way to the facility with the newborn.
"The constable said 'I've been around to deliver lots of babies but never a fawn!' and he was pretty excited. But they did everything right."
No broken bones
The fawn has some injuries, including a serious wound on its tail. Swinimer says she is unsure if they can save the tail.
'Suprisingly, there's no broken bones.' - Hope Swinimer, Hope for Wildlife
"Surprisingly, there's no broken bones, so that's a good thing," she said.
One of the big concerns about a newborn is that it needs colostrum in the first 24 to 48 hours after birth. Colostrum is produced in the breast milk of mammals and it is vital for the survival of infant mammals.
Thankfully, Hope for Wildlife has some artificial colostrum on hand for the fawn.
The hope is to move the fawn into a rehab unit with three other fawns by the end of the day Saturday. There, the baby will have minimal contact with humans, and it will be released into the wild as soon as it's strong enough.
Swinimer says that if an individual comes across a newborn fawn on its own, there are a few things they should consider.
Because an adult deer gives off an odour, a fawn's mother will often leave the baby deer on its own and feed it a few times a day so as not to attract attention from predators. Fawns do not give off an odour.
Swinimer recommends people get in touch with Hope for Wildlife if they come across a fawn whose mother is dead or if the fawn is crying, shivering or can't raise its head.