>Wildlife&Miscellaneous – 12/28/10

>Deer Photos.  The last set of deer photos we forwarded received some interesting comments.

Multi-Colored Deer.  Over the years we have heard many comment about the white markings on a good number of the deer in Illahee.  We thought it was the remnant (recessive) markings from a reported big albino buck from many years ago.  What we received the other day in an email indicates it could be otherwise.  Here is what we received (note we have removed the names, since we only use them if given specific permission, and we italicize the responses, so you know they were written by others): 
I think this has come up before but I thought I would forward it anyway.  I showed my brother-in-law the photo of the multi-colored deer that you sent.  He became very interested and looked up what he could find about it.  We recently saw a piebald deer in our yard but it we don’t think it was the same one as in your picture.  If this information is of any value do with it as you wish.

You have a Piebald Blacktail Deer living in your neighborhood.  Pretty rare.  In fact this may be one of the best close up pictures on the internet.


The term Piebald means “of different colors”.  This term is usually associated with horses, though we normally refer to such horses as pintos, paints, or Appaloosas. A piebald animal is one whose hair or fur has a spotted, rather than a solid color pattern.  Depending on what part of the U.S you are from piebald deer are sometimes referred to as pintos.

A genetic variation or “defect” is what produces the piebald condition in deer.  It is not a result of parasites or diseases. Piebald deer are colored white and brown similar to a pinto horse. Sometimes they appear almost entirely white.

Many piebald deer have some of the following conditions associated with the coloration; bowing of the nose (Roman nose), short legs, arching spine (scoliosis), and short lower jaws.

It is said that Piebalds consist of less than 1% of the deer population

Many people confuse the piebald deer with the albino deer.


Albino deer are totally white, and true albinos have pink eyes from a lack of pigement in their eyes. Albanism results from recessive genes.

White deer are naturally easily mistaken for albinos, which they are not. The true albino, besides having all white hair, also has pink eyes and pink hooves, something the white deer do not have.

Both the white deer and the albino deer, and perhaps, to a lesser extent the piebald deer, are at a disadvantage in the wild as they are easily spotted except in conditions of heavy snow. This lack of camouflage, along with poorer health keep the population of these abnormally colored deer low.


Melanistic deer are the complete opposite of an Albino.  Being very dark, often approaching totally black. Melanism results from overproduction of pigment and is far less common than albinism or Piebald.

Biologists Often Respond.  We have several biologist who receive these Updates and will respond on issues like these.  We will let you know if they do and what they say.

Another Culvert Cleanout?  While on a walk on Monday (12/27/10) it appeared the County was cleaning out the Illahee Creek culvert again.  Upon a closer look (see attached photos), they were removing logs from the cleanout area where they were last week.  Why they would be removing logs, or woody debris at the downstream end of a culvert is beyond understanding.  Normally biologists look at adding what they call LWD, or large woody debris, into streams.  We could understand them wanting to remove it if it was blocking a culvert, but to remove it at the downstream end, and close to the mouth of the stream, just doesn’t make sense to us.  We did hear it was at the request of the landowner, and it could be that the sediment removal caused a nearby tree to fall into the stream, but at some point we need to let streams go where they want to go.  That is why we have channel migration zones, or a CMZ.  Theoretically streams are supposed to be able to flow unimpeded in a CMZ and especially in a flood plain.  Upstream Illahee Creek migrates back and forth in the flood plain, which has caused problems for some of the property owners, and is understood to be part of the natural processes.  We hope a biologist will step in and help us understand why there are different approaches taking place upstream and downstream.

Other Input?  We know there are others concerned about the culvert and would like to know your thoughts.  In a later Update we will discuss the massive deposition of sediment that has been deposited at the mouth of the creek.

Jim Aho