The spotted fawn lay so still it appeared dead on the wooded path in Northeast Baltimore.
But a few people living in the woods scooped it up, fed it berries and milk, and for a few days last week — before a neighbor called police — kept the baby deer on a leash.
“It would lick your face,” said Brianna, who says she lives in the woods. She declined to tell her last name for fear of prosecution. State law prohibits people from capturing wildlife.
Brianna says she found the tawny fawn Wednesday on a path near her camp at the edge of Herring Run Park. Its mother was nowhere to be seen, she said.
“It couldn’t have been more than two weeks old,” she said.
The deer showed no fear, she said, when they placed a collar on its neck. Tawny and slender, the fawn delighted the neighborhood children in Armistead Gardens.
“I was too scared to pet it,” 12-year-old Makayla Vaughn said.
“It felt like a dog’s hair,” said Damien Praharnpap, her 14-year-old brother.
Brianna said they nursed the deer at their camp for two days, feeding it sliced apples, making its bed beneath a tarp in the woods. She planned to take it to the zoo, she said. Her cousin picked its name: Mercedes.
Audrey Bresnick saw the deer leashed to a tree at the edge of the woods Friday morning. She worried someone might harm it, so she brought it to her home and called police.
“After everybody’s hands were on that deer,” she said, “the mother wasn’t coming back.”
Her 9-year-old daughter, Destiny, curled up on the floor with the fawn. They waited for the police. Maryland Natural Resources Police decided the deer couldn’t go back in the woods.
“Because they did not know where the fawn was bedded down, they could not return it to where its mother could find it,” Natural Resources Police spokeswoman Candy Thomson said.
On Friday, officers took the fawn to a wildlife shelter outside the city.
Destiny cried to see it go.