HomeOutdoorsNewsRare Leucistic White Deer Spotted Among the Snow in New York

Rare Leucistic White Deer Spotted Among the Snow in New York

by Craig Garrett
Dama dama (fallow deer) - leucistic individual - stock photo

A rare white deer was spotted in New York state, prompting the local police to take to social media to help identify it. The West Seneca Police Department posted pictures of a unique animal, believing that it is possibly a “Seneca White Deer.”

“Check out this majestic being,” they captioned the images. “Seen here sporting some smart seasonal deer camo. From our research (google) we think it could be a “Seneca White Deer” so they maybe just got confused by our local highway signs for “West Seneca” and took the wrong exit. Maybe a local deer guide could chime in?”

The images went viral, with thousands of likes and shares. The post also garnered hundreds of comments, with many users weighing in interesting deer. One follower insisted they’d seen the animal before. They even gave it a nickname. “Ghost has been around for years, he is so beautiful! With all this publicity he is going to end up hanging over someone mantel,” they wrote. Another user couldn’t help but refer to a classic fantasy book series featuring a white deer. “This way to Narnia?”, they quipped.

However, a more professional source eventually clarified the matter. The Department of Environmental Conservation stated that the creature in the photos appears to be a “leucistic white-tailed deer.” They also suspected that the urban environment was helping the normally susceptible animal survive. “Both leucistic and albinistic animals can be found across the landscape and are subject to the same rules and regulations promulgated for white-tailed deer hunting. These animals tend to have high rates of mortality because they are so conspicuous to predators,” they wrote.

Hunting white deer is taboo in many cultures

In numerous cultures, white deer are steeped in tradition and considered to be otherworldly messengers. This is especially true in Celtic mythology; however, they also played a vital role in pre-Indo-European cultures located in the north. The Celts believed that if someone was breaking a taboo, such as Pwyll trespassing into Arawn’s hunting grounds, then a white stag would appear. In English folklore, the white hart is most commonly associated with Herne the Hunter.

According to Arthurian legend, the creature is notoriously difficult to catch, and the pursuit of it represents mankind’s spiritual quest. The appearance of the animal also signaled that it was time for the knights of the kingdom to embark on their own individual quests.

The white stag partly contributed to the martyrdom of Saint Eustace in Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox. Eustace saw a vision of Christ between the stag’s antlers and was told that he would suffer for Christ. A legend with many similar details is associated with Saint Hubert.

White deer also used often in more modern pop culture. The White Stag plays an important role in Harry Potter as the Patronus Charm used by Harry’s future self to guide him.

For centuries, the color white has been linked to purity. In ancient Celtic cultures, it also symbolized the otherworldly realm. Nowadays, people have chosen to protect the white stag as a symbol of beauty–hunting it usually causing anger because of its rarity and elusiveness. Many hunters consider shooting a white deer simply bad luck.