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Wildlife officials say baby animals may be adorable, but keep your distance

SALT LAKE CITY -- This is the time of year a lot of folks out hiking or camping can see a baby deer, and while it's tempting to get close: Don’t.

Wildlife experts say if you find a baby animal the next steps are simple. Leave it be, don't get close to it, and do not touch it or bring it home.

While it seems like common sense, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says they see people do the exact opposite every single year.

“It’s never a good idea to ever have any type of a baby separated from its mom, and that includes deer,” said Mark Hadley of the Utah DWR.

Even if your natural instinct is to pick up the cute, baby animal, the DWR says you need to resist that urge.

Pictures posted to Facebook last June show campers not only getting too close to the white tail fawn, but also picking it up and taking it back to their campsite. Then a woman even tucked it inside her jacket.

The DWR says deer leave their babies alone for hours at a time, usually in a hidden spot to protect them from predators.

Even if you get too close you could scare the deer, making it run away, and then the mom won't be able to find it. In return, the fawn's likelihood of living would be slim to none.

“The mom will only come and visit the baby occasionally during the day—to care for it, to nurse it,” Hadley said. "The reason why she wants to keep her distance is she doesn't want to draw predators to where the animal has been hid."

Experts say the best thing to do is look, don't touch. Hadley said you do need a permit to handle wildlife, so you could face charges if you're caught picking up a fawn.

For more information about wildlife in Utah and how to respond to encounters, visit WildAwareUtah. For specific information about fawns, click here.