Late last week as I was driving home from work, I saw a small herd of deer in the field by Goose Hollow bridge in Thornton — across from the campground on Rt. 49. One animal stood out as it had primarily white fur and looked more like a pinto pony than a deer. I was lucky to spot a rare piebald deer! Waterville Valley Department of Public Safety Director, Chris Hodges, also saw the piebald deer crossing the Mad River.
Alas, as always seems to happen when I spot interesting wildlife, I had left my camera in my office. I found the photo, below, by googling piebald deer so you can get an idea what it looked like.
Pennsylvania blogger Marcus Schneck wrote that hunters have less than a 1 in 100 chance of catching a glimpse of a piebald white-tailed deer.
Schneck explained the rare condition, “The piebald coloring is generally asymmetrical across the body of the animal…It’s one result of a genetic variation, or defect, that often produces other observable conditions in the animal, including short legs and lower jaw, an arching spine and a bowing of the nose that produces the condition known as Roman nose.
“The piebald condition is not the same as an albino deer. Although random breeding by piebalds in the general deer population will produce more “normal” deer than subsequent piebalds, the rate of the latter appears to increase when the piebald deer are protected. That makes the genes causing the piebald condition more comment in the population.
“Few piebalds survive long enough to pass on their genes to more than one additional generation. With the additional white on their bodies, the natural brown and gray-brown camouflage of a “normal” whitetail’s coloring is lost and the piebalds become easier targets for natural predators.”
Hunting folklore holds that a hunter that kills an all-white deer or a deer with more white areas on the body than white-tails normally carry, will go many years before ever killing another deer.