Nova Scotia

Horses 'adopt' orphaned deer

A young deer that was orphaned in the summer appears to have been adopted by horses.

A young deer that was orphaned in the summer appears to have been adopted by horses.

The fawn lost its mother in July, but managed to survive. It is regularly spotted grazing in a field near Shubenacadie, N.S., just like most deer do, but the odd thing is it's hanging out with horses, not deer.

It was first seen with its foster family in the summer and still had spots, meaning it was young. A few days later a dead doe was found on the road.

Mare fond of fawn

Erin Carter, 9, drives past the field with her father Greg Carter every day.

"We were just driving by and I noticed the deer with the horses and I didn't know what to think," she said Monday.

Her father was also stumped.

"Somehow this deer survived and is living here with these horses and it never leaves. We see it every day," he said.

Observers say the fawn seems to be particularly fond of one of the two mares and is never far from its side.

Both herd animals

Hope Swinimer, who runs the wildlife refuge Hope For Wildlife, said deer and horses are both herd animals. She is not surprised the Shubenacadie group is together.  

"Through my experience, every living thing needs to bond with something, so if its mother isn't there, it's going to find some other species to bond with," she said.

Swinimer was surprised the young fawn survived the summer and fall without its mother's milk.

Erin Carter had her own theory for the fawn's survival.

"I think the deer thinks the horse is his mother and the horses think it's their baby," she explained.

Swinimer said that while it is wonderful the fawn found a home with the horses, the ideal situation would be if the deer finds other deer and makes a home with them.

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