Traditionally known for its resident whitetail deer adorning antlers that could make any hunter weak in the knees, the state of Iowa is also home to a special, yet little-known species of deer.
Believed to be descendants of an escapee from a captive heard roughly 20 years ago, eastern Iowa’s white deer have become somewhat of a common sight in Buchanan County.
Not to be confused with albino deer, these snow-white deer are without the pinkish-red eyes, nose and ear membranes characteristic of albino animals. These deer, on the other hand, are typically spotted with black eyes and noses.
While these deer have obvious difficulty concealing themselves in spring, summer or fall foliage, they are under the legal protection of the state, which prohibits the shooting of any predominantly white deer. This fact alone, in a hunter-heavy state such as Iowa, is considered to be a leading factor behind the animal’s ability to both maintain and increase population numbers.
Additionally, Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Jason Auel believes there is a genetic predisposition for white deer does to bear all-white fawns, another factor allowing these deer to continue to thrive.
According to locals, the deer are becoming so common in the area that they are no longer considered a novelty, but many are happy to hear that they are successfully holding their own.
The excitement in the community was renewed last week when a spike-antlered buck was spotted in close proximity to a number of residences. Locals were able to snap pictures at will with their cellphones before the animal retreated into the woods.
Image: Elaine Hughes