White Deer in Wisconsin Law and History

White Deer in Wisconsin Law and History

White and albino deer are currently protected in all of Wisconsin, and have been in most of the state for over 75 years!  The first law protecting white deer was enacted in 1940 (Otis S. Bersing, A Century of Wisconsin Deer).  This is one of the longest traditions of white deer protection in any state.

In 2008 protection of white deer was removed in CWD (chronic wasting disease) management zones in southern Wisconsin.  The rule change, made at the recommendation of the CWD Stakeholder Advisory Group, was part of an effort to drastically reduce deer numbers in the affected counties, even though white deer are extremely rare and statistically insignificant.

In 2014, the Deer Trustee Report Rule Package, a composite recommendation for statewide deer hunting rule changes, temporarily reinstated white deer protection in CWD zones.  The law became permanent in 2015.  Sauk County Representative Fred Clark was instrumental in getting the white deer proposal added to the package.

Piebald, or partially white, deer are not protected in Wisconsin, and white deer law does not, unfortunately, discriminate between piebalds, with typically mixed brown and white coats, and all-white deer that have only a very small spot of brown on them (see video and photo at top of front page). 

This loophole in the law has resulted in the needless deaths of some locally prized deer that were otherwise pure white.  White deer advocates are still working to broaden the definition to include these deer, too.