Rare, White Deer Appear in Jersey Woods

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Sue Meyer of Ocean County was traveling along Lakehurst Road in Browns Mills Wednesday morning just like she does every morning on her commute.

    She looked up and saw a white deer emerge from the woods. 

    Then she looked again and saw another white deer. Then a third.

    Sue stopped driving to take photos of the pale trio. 

    "What is the odds, to see three at one time," said Meyer. "I saw one a week ago."

    Apparently, it is a rare sight. 

    NBC10 sent the photos to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).

    "It was difficult to definitively determine what the animals were, but our best educated guess is they are likely piebald deer," said NJDEP spokesman Bob Considine.

    "Piebald deer sightings are an anomaly, but we get at least a couple of calls a year on them and they do tend to travel in groups. We estimate they represent about one-percent of the deer population in New Jersey."

    Considine checked with a NJDEP biologist. Piebald deer are not true albinos. They are normal deer with an inherited genetic trait. In addition to having that white coat, piebalds also often times have some “hunchback” tendencies due to a curved spine and some other internal and external deformities.

    Albino deer have pink eyes and totally white hair. Albinism is a recessive trait found in all kinds of mammals and birds. They lack the gene that provides normal colorization and they don’t produce the enzyme responsible for skin and hair colorization.

    Most animals with albinism also struggle to survive due to poor eyesight, according to Considine.

    The unique piebald deer are allowed to be hunted.

    The NJDEP has set deer regulations. Fall bow season is underway through Oct. 25. 

    Over the years Meyer said she's seen white deer before in the Browns Mills area and throughout Ocean County, but never three at one time.