Albino deer hanging around Illahee?

Offspring of what is believed to be a rare albino deer have been spotted in Illahee. - Courtesy photo
Offspring of what is believed to be a rare albino deer have been spotted in Illahee.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

John Lind of Illahee was stranded in a tree for about 25 minutes this summer, but he didn’t mind at all. He was taking pictures of an anomaly in nature: Deer that may be the direct offspring of an albino buck.

In all, there are about five of the deer that pop up from time to time. Papa Buck is a rarer sight and Lind hasn’t seen that deer for about two years, he said. Lind thinks that buck is a true albino as the buck is white and has pink eyes.

The day of the tree stranding, Lind saw the deer and climbed up into the tree to take their picture. In the meantime, his visiting grandchildren were looking around Lind’s five-acre property for their grandfather. Lind didn’t come down from the tree because he didn’t want to disturb the deer.

“They were off away from the house and walking around and having a good time. I thought I’d just stay up there and shoot pictures,” he said. Now, the deer, most of which are brown or black with white splotches, are making another appearance.

The brown doe look like appaloosa horses, he said. One deer in particular has unusual markings — it is brown with creme-colored speckles.

“They just show up and eat all our flowers,” Lind said.

The deer find the petunias and morning glory rather snackable.

“But it’s interesting, we can walk out there and they just kind of walk away because they are very accustomed to people,” he said. “The older deer are more skittish than the younger ones.”

In a recent photograph of one of the fawn, Lind was able to get just a few feet away to take a picture. Once the picture was taken, the fawn calmly walked away.

“He just stood there very quietly and walked right up to me,” he said.

Jim Aho, another Illahee resident, hasn’t seen the albino buck but he has seen the hungry fawn, which feast on his roses, tomatoes, kiwis, raspberries and squash as it buds in the summer.

Aho sees the fawn when he goes on his daily walks, he said. In the past few years, he has noticed that the deer have moved to different areas in Illahee, but he knows they are still there.

Craig Bartlett, a public information officer for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said albino deer are extremely rare. It is likely that if the buck isn’t a true albino, it could be a partially albino deer, which are white with brown or black splotches. The partially albino deer look like Pinto ponies and are commonly mistaken for albino deer, Bartlett said.

Although albino deer are a rare find, they are not legally protected.

“They are not, from a management perspective, biologically significant,” Bartlett said. “They’re unusual, but they are not what we want to perpetuate in nature, partly because true albino animals don’t fare well in the wild because other animals tend to see them.”

The last known sighting of a true albino elk in Washington, for instance, was in the late 1970s near the Quinalt River.

“True albino animals do exist but it’s more likely this may be one of those (partially albino) animals,” Bartlett said. “One difference is that a true albino deer has a pink nose and basically pink eyelids rather than dark eyes.”

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