The Private Life of Deer
Video: The Ghost Deer

For whitetailed deer, one of the rarest variations of all is color. The ghost deer is a whitetailed deer, colored completely white due to a lack of melanin—a natural pigment found in most organisms. It’s a rare recessive gene; and, like humans, only about one out of 20,000 mammals are albino. “The Private Life of Deer” airs Wednesday, November 27 at 10/9c on PBS (check local listings).

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  • Gunhild Swanson

    My husband and I have vacationed many times over 20 years at the Olympic National Park coastal strip on the western shore of the Olympic Peninsula. We encountered many deer there that were from almost white to having white patches of varying sizes. We were told by rangers that they were descendants of an albino white tail deer. Over the years most of the white patches disappeared, and on my last visit in 2010 I didn’t see any with such white markings

  • Ray Barnard

    In Romulus, N.Y. there is a hole heard of white deer. There must be something in or lacking in their food too.

  • Josh Goldman

    The Romulus deer are in the closed Seneca Army Depot. One guess as to how the albino deer herd developed is that when the army base was actively being used, the white deer might have become common because the base personnel were actively selecting for them by hunting the nonalbino deer. Because the depot is completely fenced in, the herd inside can’t mix with the general deer population outside.

  • Pat Tatum

    We have one that we have had for approx. 10 years. She is so beautiful and graceful. We live in VA on a ten acre parcel and are privileged to see her every day. We keep our distance and respect each other’s space. She is a wonder to all who see her. We have beautiful pictures of her and wait everyday for her daily visits.

  • Victoria S.

    The herd of white deer in Romulus, NY are a creation of the whole herd of deer being fenced off by the US Military. These deer were fenced in by the Seneca Army Depot. (you can google this to verify my facts) Seneca White Deer are leucistic thus meaning they lack all of the pigmentation in their hair but they have the normal corlored brown eyes.

    These deer have lived in an area that has limited predators, there was only a few select hunters every year allowed to hunt them. These animals have thrived and still are thriving……..

  • Carrie Christiansen

    There is a fairly large number of these mystical creatures on and near Ft. Dix (also not far from McGuire AFB) in central NJ. I live near there and have seen up to 6 at a time. They are not contained or controlled in any way there that I am aware of, and I have no scientific reason to provide for their presence and concentration in that area… It is notable to me however that in the animal medicine lore of different indigenous traditions that Deer represents Peace and Gentleness and that white generally denotes Purity… and that the 2 large populations that I am aware of are both connected to military bases. I’m guessing that they’re ‘on the job’. Just sayin’… :-)

  • Faye

    I’m surprised it has survived into adulthood without the camouflage in its coat that would protect it from predators. Perhaps that is another reason why we see even fewer in the wild.

  • John

    My wife and I have seen a herd of a dozen or so white deer near Coupland, TX

  • Patrice Denning

    John and Jeff,

    Great segment. I will always remember how amazed I was to see a ghost deer near Manitowish Waters about 12 years ago. An ordinary day became amazing. Keep up the great work. Your work is such an inspiration to others. I sure miss our potluck dinners and kayak trips.

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