Rare piebald deer spotted in Madison County

Huntsville

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – It’s not often that you see a white deer.

News 19 viewer Barbara Fralix spotted a piebald deer in Madison County last week.

News 19 reached out to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, or ACES, to see just how unique these deer are to our area.

We asked Norm Halley with ACES, how common are piebald deer?

“You usually see a population around 1-2% of the local population. Some areas have more than others because it is a recessive genetic trait,” Halley said.

The deer Fralix saw wasn’t solid white; it was mottled. That’s what Halley said makes it piebald and not albino.

“Piebald genetic maintains some of the skin patches that have melanin, or what gives your skin color,” said Halley. “Albino is completely leucistic, or completely lacking in pigment. Piebalds have both melanistic and albino traits together, giving them a mottled look.”

These creatures are beautiful, but it is deer season. Are they illegal to kill? According to Halley, it is illegal in some states — but not in Alabama.

“In some states, if it is at least 50% albino it is illegal,” Halley said. “In some states, only albino deer are protected. Alabama does not prohibit it, but Tennessee does have restrictions for albino deer.”

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