Two of the newest patients at Medicine River Wildlife Centre, premature baby deer and porcupine, survived roadway run-ins their mothers could not.
The duo are lucky to be alive, their pregnant mothers recently killed by motorists in separate incidents in the area, says the wildlife rehabilitation centre’s executive director Carol Kelly.
“We don’t get an awful lot of them that have actually been hit by a vehicle and then rescued like this,” said Kelly.
A doe was struck by a vehicle near Eckville on Friday and as she was dying, gave birth to a fawn. The driver scooped the newborn up and brought it to Medicine River.
A few days before that, an RCMP officer in the Red Deer area accidentally hit and killed a porcupine.
“When he was moving her off the road, he noticed that her stomach was split open and there was a baby inside. So he took the baby out,” said Kelly.
“Both of them were very close to being born (naturally). So we stabilized them, because we don’t know how much internal damage they might have sustained from the impact.”
The two little guys are doing well and eating on their own, she said.
The porcupine will be named Charlie after the Mountie who saved him, said Kelly.
Charlie the Porcupine will be used in the centre’s education program, visiting local schools and dispelling myths about his prickly kindred. Among those wrong-headed ideas, Kelly said, are that porcupines will “chase you down and shoot their quills out at you.”
“Some people think . . . they get their quills in the face of their cows and horses, so they don’t like them,” said Kelly. “But it’s actually not the porcupine at all, he’s just minding his own business. The cows are coming over and sticking their face into the porcupine.”
The fawn spent a few days in the incubator at Medicine River but is now out.
Staff have been limiting their human contact with the animal, donning black hoodies during feeding time.
Once more orphaned fawns come in as the season progresses, the deer will be adopted into a wild family.
“Once we know that it’s good and strong and stable, then what we’ll do is we’ll find a doe out in the wild that’s lactating and call her in and she’ll adopt it,” Kelly said. “Then our work is done.”
While two animals coming in like this is “one of those rare moments at the centre,” it’s not unheard of. A few years ago, a man hit and killed a doe and, seeing movement in its stomach, cut it open and rescued three fawns, bringing them to Medicine River to recuperate.
“This is the season when we start getting so many orphans,” said Kelly. “Being aware that the wildlife are there (and) driving reasonable speeds really is quite helpful.”