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White Deer: Ghosts of the Forest

True, we’re a dog website, but sometimes we just have to veer to deer, especially when we come across something like these elegant and ethereal creatures.

Native Americans considered them magical. So did Jeff Richter, a nature photographer who went to track down a herd he had heard about in north central Wisconsin. “I was just instantly hooked by them,” he says.

Richter’s book, released last year, is the result of his 10-year quest.

According to John Bates, the Wisconsin naturalist who provided the text for the book, references to the deer — he considers them albino, despite the lack of pink eyes — can be found in the journals of European explorers. They are thriving now in Wisconsin because state law prohibits hunting them, and communities have taken to feeding them.

Richter says the white deer, a genetic fluke, can be born to regular deer, and seem not to be singled out by other deer because of their color. “They just seem to be regular deer as far as the deer are concerned,” said Richter.

There are several other well-established populations of white deer, including an enclave at the closed-down Seneca Army Depot in Romulus, New York, where in the 1950s a depot commander issued orders forbidding the shooting of them.

Richter’s book is available from Manitowish River Press

To see a video of the deer, click below: 

(Photo by Jeff Richter)


Comment from Mary Haight
Time May 2, 2009 at 10:58 am

Isn’t this a great story? A friend sent this to me yesterday and it was just the best way to start the day:) A wonderful gift for readers–thanks!

Comment from bluhawkk
Time May 3, 2009 at 6:15 am

I had to login to see video.

There is a 2006 video of white deer in Seneca NY whose future in 2012 becomes questionable.


Will the stressed economy put a halt to questions of development?