Piebald deer

Rare Deer? – The Piebald Deer

Grant Woods |

Recently several folks have posted questions and pictures on my Facebook page about deer that are mostly white. These deer have a rare genetic trait that is called piebald anomaly.

Piebald deer usually have between 15 and 90% white hair. They also usually have either or all of the following characteristics: Roman nose, short legs, curving or arching of the spine, short lower jaws, and malformed internal organs.

These are certainly not genetic traits that cause deer to survive longer. In fact, many piebald fawns die at birth or shortly after. This is why piebald deer often occur at way less than one percent of the population.

They are protected in some states and legal for harvest in others. Protecting deer that could possibly pass on low quality genetic traits isn’t good management. However, even in areas where they are protected they rarely exceed one percent of the population. An exception is an army base in New York where any deer that is partially white has been protected for years while “normal” deer have been harvested. In that population piebald deer composed more than five percent of the herd.

A friend of mine, Kable, has been photographing this piebald deer on his farm for three years – since it was a fawn. It’s a very rare piebald deer to survive to that age. The population of piebald deer on his farm isn’t increasing and this is a rare and beautiful deer to watch.  I’d give this doe a pass also.

Growing and studying deer together,

Grant Woods