White Deer–A Treasure Too Good to Lose

There is a famous Gary Larson cartoon, something to the effect: “Look, Watkins! A rare example of Nature’s beauty–let’s kill it and preserve it for future generations.”

That could happen in Wisconsin if a group of hunters get their way. They have entered a question on the Wisconsin Conservation Congress Spring ballot that reads: “Would you support legalizing the harvest of white (not albino) deer statewide?”

Questions on the WCC ballot are only advisory but give the public a chance to weigh in on hunting, fishing, and other natural resource questions that can later influence rule changes by the DNR and legislature.

Wisconsin is one of only four states in the entire country that protect white deer, and they have protected them for 81 years. To allow a group of trophy hunters to kill these deer is a pretty radical—and ill-advised–idea.

It prompts the questions: Hunters, do you really need to shoot EVERYTHING? Will this only add to the outrage that most people already feel about the recent wolf hunt debacle? Is this good publicity for either hunters or the DNR?

White deer are so rare they occur in only about 1 in 20,000 deer. They do occur in pockets, but a local population in no way indicates density over a broader area. What will happen if they become legal game? Is there a word for “rarer than rare”?

Some hunters argue that wanting to protect white deer is just a social issue, but that grossly overlooks their rarity. If you had 10,000 white deer and 10,000 brown deer—that would be a social issue. 1 white deer and 19,999 brown deer—that’s a biological issue.

Some hunters argue that white deer are increasing. Considering Wisconsin has protected them for 81 years, shouldn’t there be white deer all over the place? Even in areas with some white deer, most people have never seen one.

Then there are the arguments that white deer are easily seen by predators (what about winter?), they have recessive genes (so do blue-eyed humans and redheads), they can carry disease (so can all the brown ones), they’re defective (only until you want one for a trophy).

Wisconsinites LOVE their white deer. They watch them, photograph them, follow their lives, and get very, very upset when one is killed. If a white deer is shot, the hunter might gain a trophy, but everyone else loses the chance to see and enjoy that individual (and any offspring) forever.

The Wisconsin DNR is given the great responsibility to protect our wildlife for all to enjoy. I encourage everyone—both hunters and nonhunters, to vote against the white deer hunting proposal. When you have something this unique, this rare, this beautiful, and this loved, why destroy it?

The Spring Hearing is entirely online this year, from April 12 to April 15. A copy of the ballot questions can be seen here (the white deer Question is #14). For more information about white deer and the hunting proposal, go to protectthewhitedeer.com.