SAUGATUCK, Mich. — On a June evening, Pete Palazzolo was walking his dog on a trail not far from his home. His dog began to bark.
"I was coming around the trail, he noticed something and came and got me like, something wasn't right," Palazzolo said.
It wasn't long before he found out what had his dog so concerned. In the middle of the trail was a deer carcass. It was getting late so Palazzolo went inside, deciding to deal with it the following day.
When he returned, he made another shocking discovery.
"I came around and there was a little fawn curled up next to it. And as soon as I realized what it was, my heart skipped a beat. Seeing a baby laying next to a dead mother, it kicked in something I think. Even my dog had a sympathy for the fawn," Palazzolo said.
"I picked him up and I put him in my arms and he didn't even squawk or anything. I was about 1,000 feet from the house."
Palazzolo and his wife keep goats, so they began to feed the fawn milk replacement.
"All of a sudden I could hear another little sound outside. My heart went again. I told my dog there's another one. Let's go find it," Palazzolo said.
In that moment, Palazzolo knew he needed help. He and his wife went online and accessed the Michigan DNR's list of licensed rehabilitators. That's when he found The Mitten Wildlife Rescue in the Branch County village of Coldwater.
"We don't want to "fawn nap." So I kind of go through my questions of where do you find them? What kind of situation were they in when you found them? But he was great. He was super helpful," said Taylor Martin from the rescue about her phone call with Palazzolo.
The two arranged a time and place to meet. The fawns are now at the rescue and are being nursed back to health.
"They are doing fantastic. And I will say that they wouldn't be anywhere near to where they are now, especially the female fawn he found if it wasn't for the steps that he took," Martin said.
The fawn will need to be released into the wild and Martin says that needs to be done by October 1.
Martin says if you find a fawn and think it might be on its own, call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Be prepared to answer questions to make sure the fawn really is on its own. There are some signs you can look for.
"A fawn that's happy and healthy will lay in the grass curled up in a ball. If you find a fawn laying on its side, then more than likely needs intervention," she said.
"A fawn that you find standing up walking around that's calling out probably needs help and mom probably has not come back. So you just need to make sure that mom has really gone before you take the steps of removing the fawn from where you found it."
Martin said she's taken in about 33 fawns this season. It costs about $1,500 per fawn for her to get them back up to full strength so they can be released back into the wild come the fall. If you'd like to help her work, she has a couple of online donations options available.
As for Palazzolo, he hopes the deer will be released back into the wild near Saugatuck. He says he often fantasizes about what it might be like to run into them again one day as adults. He says the experience was a blessing.
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