Shooting of White and Albino Deer
Some interesting issues were brought to the forefront during the 2012 gun deer season when two white deer were legally killed by hunters in Sauk County.
It’s easy for news reporters to hype a store like this because there are plenty folks willing to give energy-charged interviews.
There are reasons why white and albino deer can be hunted in some regions of the state and not other areas. Most of the reasons are that that is the way it’s been since 1940 when the first protection of albino or white deer was put in place ( see Otis S. Bersing, 1956).
Then several years ago, management in the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone allowed any deer to be taken because any deer – brown or white – could be infected with CWD and could, therefore, infect other deer.
White and albino deer are mutants, which in general are less vigorous and could weaken the gene pool. Some mutants, of course, are more vigorous.
So why are these hunters who shot white deer being crucified? Is this all that different from the treatment some hunters get when they bring a small deer, or a doe, to a registration station?
I recall a decade ago a reporter’s lead line in her opening day gun deer season story. “The hunter brought in a deer to the registration station he didn’t have to be ashamed of.” His deer was a large buck.
Are we to read into her lead that if we bring in a legal deer, albeit an antlerless deer, we should be ashamed? That’s what she thought, and that’s what she wrote.
So these hunters who shot the white deer, and shot them legally, are being crucified. Why should someone have to take that much abuse for doing something that is legal?
It makes sense to allow albino and white deer to be killed in the CWD zone. And It makes sense to allow white (non-albino) deer to be killed in the rest of the state, too. Hunters who believe these deer should not be killed, can and probably will and do, take a pass.
And it is right for local folks who like the unique nature of these deer to suggest they not be killed. But their opinion should not replace the law.
Both sides should ease off, take a breath, and go about their ways.
Maybe an olive branch would be appreciated if the hunters had the deer mounted and presented them to a local library, school or community building, at least on a long-term loan. But the gesture should go the other way, too.
We should hear in those same news reports of these hunters’ camp having been trashed.
And the community should not continue to encourage and allow news people to use them as pawns to sensationalize a story.