In Illinois, rare white deer killed near Kankakee River State Park

Bourbonnais, Ill. — Not one but two white deer have captured plenty of attention this fall at both ends of the state.

But sad news came in mid-November when it was reported that the white deer in the northern part of the state had been hit by a car.

That deer was killed near Kankakee River State Park, the Kankakee Daily-Journal reported.

Bob Massey, a wildlife biologist for DNR, said the deer appeared to a be an albino. Massey said there are perhaps three or four white deer in the state – one has been frequently seen near the southwestern Illinois town of Waterloo.

Albino deer are illegal to hunt and harvest in Illinois. The deer killed will likely be preserved and displayed at Kankakee River State Park.

According to the Daily Journal, on Oct. 13 a reader emailed a cellphone photo of the white deer in high vegetation along Rock Creek at Illinois Route 102.

Soon another reader called to report that he had taken cellphone photos of the young white deer weeks earlier, and that several other people had stopped that day to attempt to do the same.

Ron Jones, of Herscher, told the newspaper he saw the white fawn and its mother on the south side of Route 102 and west of Rock Creek, as he drove west. He turned around and came back to shoot some cellphone pictures in the grassy area where a memorial to the former Rockville post office is located.

Jones told the Daily-Journal the young deer appeared to have dark eyes, which would mean it was not an albino.

Kankakee River State Park Superintendent Stacey Johnson said the rare white deer will be preserved for display at the park’s visitor center.

The pure white, white-tailed deer “is a genetic anomaly,” he said. “When this first came up, there were postings for a couple others around the state. So three or four white deer among 300,000 to 400,000 deer (in Illinois) is pretty rare.”

There once was a white deer herd at Argonne National Laboratory at Lemont in DuPage County. They were from a herd of fallow deer kept by the previous owner and retained at Argonne.

In southern Illinois, There have been multiple sightings of the white doe in Waterloo, usually seen with a herd and recently with her two fawns.

An albino deer is defined as having a fully white coat with pink eyes, a pink nose and pinkish hooves – a single brown spot will negate the albino label.

Carl Handel, a district wildlife biologist for DNR, said fewer than 1 percent of deer are albino.

“Basically every animal has the gene for being albino or melanistic (dark-colored), and it’s just shuffle of the genes, that one gene for being albino pops up once in a while,” Handel said.

The last sighting of the Waterloo deer was Nov. 20.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, a hunter shot and killed a white deer in that state’s Pepin County on Nov. 18. The hunter claimed to only see the brown on the top of the deer’s head.

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