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White, Leucistic and Albino Deer.

Updated on July 16, 2017

In Arthurian legend a white stag often appeared at the beginning of a quest. It represented an elusive and often mystical quarry. Sometimes the white hart represents romantic love, and sometime conversion to Christianity.

In reality white deer are typical a result of leucism, a pigmentation pattern controlled by a recessive gene. White deer may arise more often in captive populations due to inbreeding and the absence of predators.

Some areas now have fairly stable populations of white animals rather than just the occasional one or two. (For example, areas of Wisconsin, the New Forest--see examples below).

Hunting

Some people consider white deer prized trophies and they are very vulnerable to hunting or poaching due to their trophy value and high visibility. Others value having white deer alive in the environment and try to keep their locations a secret. In the tradition of white bears being called "spirit bears" white deer are sometimes called "spirit deer".

There is a considerable debate even amongst hunters and in the general public as to whether white deer should be protected a rare and beautiful creatures, or shot as genetically inferior animals who are not only more vulnerable to predation but can draw predators to their normally colored kin.

In areas where they are rare white deer can become local favorites. So hunters who take them do so at the risk of becoming quite unpopular (e.g. Missouri 2014). And it is illegal to hunt white deer in some states, including Iowa. A similar prohibition in Oklahoma was recently repealed.

Sussex

In 2009 this white stag was rescued from being entrapped in a rope swing. One of the rescuers suggest the deer might be a true albino because "The nose, eyes and even the deer hooves were more red than usual."

See also:

Scotland

Pearl is a white roebuck spotted on a Scottish estate (2008). [Telegraph]

This deer was found on a private estate and thus available for hunting. Giving that white roe deer are rare in the Untied Kingdom the decision to sell hunting rights foe a profit was widely criticized. I was unable to discover what ultimately happened to this animal.

See also: Rare white deer /How much to kill this deer?

Pictured in2008 at an undisclosed location this stag is a red deer. White stags are far less common in red deer than in fallow deer. This stags location was kept secret as even when the deer is on protected range where hunting is not permitted, they are often taken by poachers if their location is publicized.


See also: 'Ghost-like' white stag spotted in Scotland

The New Forest

A white fallow deer was observed in the New Forest, United Kingdom, in 2008. The coloring suggests he is a result of leucanism.

See also:

United States

 

Illinois

The Seneca Army Depot is home to a population of white deer. [Encyclopedia Britannica]. For more pictures see: Prairie State Outdoors, White Country Cabins.

Iowa

Oklahoma

It was illegal to shoot white deer in Oklahoma from 1998 until 2012.

Montana

Smaller numbers of white deer are found in Montana. In the Golden Valley county area the shooting of white deer is prohibited.

North Carolina

The town of Garner has an unofficial mascot in the form of a taxidermied white deer.

Pennsylvania

This ten point stag was shot (2010) at a hunting lodge that deliberately brought in deer carrying leucistic genetics.

Tennessee

In Tennessee white deer are protected, but white turkeys are fair game.

Wisconsin

The stag shown right was brought in by hunters in 2006.

A herd including many white deer living in the Boulder Junction area [video], who are the subject of the book "White Deer". Another smaller herd is located near Leland.

Debate about whether or not to protect the white deer in the state is ongoing. The shooting of white deer in Wisconsin is currently not legal. An exception is made for zone where chronic wasting disease is endemic. but even in these areas shooting a white deer can cause public outrage.

Texas

Unlike most of the deer shown on this hub, this fawn appears to be a true albino with pink eyes. It was reported found in the wild in Texas in 2005--but the origin of the report is not clear after it is has passed around the internet. The fawn was apparently nick-named "Powder".

It is not even certan that this fawn was found in Texas as other versions of the email report it was found in Stanley, North Dakota or West Liberty, Kentucky, Snopes listed the legitimacy of this story as "undetermined".

United States Shooting Regulations (in progress)

STATE
WHITE DEER SHOOTING
 
Alabama
Legal
 
Arizona
Legal
 
Florida
Legal
 
Georgia
Legal
 
Idaho
Legal
 
Illinois
Illegal
 
Iowa
Illegal
 
Kentucky
Legal
 
Maine
Legal
 
Martland
Legal
 
Michigan
Illegal
 
Wisconsin
Illegal
Except in chronic wasting disease zones
* Please let me know any additions, corrections and updates via the comments section below

Czech Republic

In the Žleby, this mounted specimen of a white stag is displayed. Age and provenance unknown.

Žleby is an amazing Gothic castle was built in 1289 and rebuilt in the 15th and again in the 16th century.

Around the castle there is a 130 hectare fenced deer park. There is a herd of deer there (living ones) many of whom are white.

Zleby deer park
Zleby deer park | Source

Sweden

White reindeer have also been observed. Like the example below photographed in Jamtland in 2005.

Photo credit: oskarlin / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

References

  • Fletcher, N. (2001). Hart's Desire. Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, 1(3), 76-81.

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    • LetitiaFT profile image

      LetitiaFT 

      6 years ago from Paris via California

      Growing up in San Diego in the 1970s there was a white doe that graced Mission Valley, the city's central nerve system. Anyone lucky enough to see her, as I was as a child on two occasions, felt blessed somehow. Her hide reflected the eternal sunshine of Southern California, a glowing apparition, a vision. Unfortunately the local fish and wildlife dept. decided she was a threat to the growing number of golf courses, hotels and shopping centers. They shot her. Thousands gathered to mourn at a special ceremony on the hillside where she roamed. My mother took me out of school that day and we attended. It was the end of old San Diego, and the end of my childhood.

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