Staten Island resident Mary Ann Mattera says she “nearly jumped out of my skin” the first time she saw a white deer in the woods between the South Shore Golf Course and the 440 West Shore Expressway in Staten Island. She heard rustling in the brush, looked up and saw the deer. He was all white with light brown spots on his chest.
She didn’t have a camera handy, so her friends at work started joking about her big foot sighting. That was two weeks ago. Last week she saw the deer again. She got off two pictures from her cellphone. Unfortunately, for us and for Mary Ann, the picture of a blurry white form on top of a ridge isn’t making this seem any less like big foot.
I called over to the South Shore Golf Course; they haven’t seen the white deer yet, but they’re asking around. No answer yet from nearby Clay Pit Ponds. Deer are common in this part of Staten Island, which is so close to New Jersey by water that deer swim across.
Mary Ann says she thinks the deer had dark, not red, eyes. That would make it leucistic as opposed to albino. (It’s a different kind of pigment loss.)
There’s a whole herd of leucistic deer upstate in Seneca. Normally the recessive gene would disappear in a large population and be big targets for trophy hunters. The Seneca Army Depot was fenced in by 1941 and Col. Franklin Kemble, Jr. gave orders not to kill the white deer. Today the depot is abandoned but still fenced. About one-quarter of its 800 deer are white.
Anybody else see the white Staten Island deer?
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