US Army raises world's largest herd of white deer


34 Responses to “US Army raises world's largest herd of white deer”

  1. Timothy Hutton says:

    LOBSTER suggested:

    if we ever need the food for the war effort they’ll be easy to spot! :P [emphasis added]

    An excellent point!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Artificial selection FTW!!!!

  3. Timothy Hutton says:

    So the Army shot the “brown” and protected the “white” deers, and that’s a good thing? (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself, though I probably should have tried harder…)

    Did the Army “raise” a herd of White Deer or did they simply not shoot them (as compared with the boring brown deer they lived with)?

    It seems the Army “tolerated” the White Deer, the non-profit is raising them…

    What I find interesting is that the standing “order” (not sure how formal it was) obvioulsy survived countless Base Commanders over the 60+ years the White Deer have roamed this 24 Acre preserve.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Just what nature needs is us morons managing it.

  5. Jason Olshefsky says:

    [script joke ( "hunt brown deer", "the white ones were allowed to breed", "1941", "U.S. Army" )]


  6. Timothy Hutton says:

    Ugh, my previous post said the site was 24 acres – it is 24 square miles, sorry.

  7. chrisfrelin says:

    I’ve been wrong before, but – um, aren’t those deer white because of a recessive gene, and maybe they are meant to be more susceptible to predators as some form of natural selection? and we are protecting them because they are neat to look at? people are weird.

  8. 445supermag says:

    There’s a much smaller (and sadder) herd of white fallow deer at Mount Madonna park (in the mountains to the southwest of San Jose). They are a exotic species donated by Hearst to the park, started from just one pair:

  9. Moriarty says:

    Actually, no. They’re clearly not more susceptible to their only predator in this environment, humans. They’ve evolved a very unusual defense mechanism of being “neat looking.”

  10. chrisfrelin says:

    Yeah – I guess only taking into account the last hundred-odd years of human history when we have had enough free time to give a crap about how “neat” our former prey and competition for foraging looks instead of the last 40,000 makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the wake up call, Moriarty.

  11. Anonymous says:

    @4 I live near the old base, and believe me, if there’s one thing this area doesn’t need, it’s more deer. Around here, if you haven’t hit one with your car yet, you will soon. They’re about as common as squirrels.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Nothing unusual about a military base protecting a herd.

    The Richmond Defense Logistics Agency Depot has a herd of Elk. When the government bought the land in 1941, it came with a herd of Elk from the owner.

  13. Anonymous says:

    a_user (#3)

    Take it up with the New York State legislature.

  14. immutablyme says:

    That’s fabulous! Breed out the necessary tools the deer have for blending into their environment to avoid predation and encourage the genetic abnormality that makes them stand out like a chocolate cake at a Jenny Craig convention. Brilliant.

  15. Takuan says:

    anything big enough to eat a deer was wiped out decades ago.

  16. Moriarty says:

    See also the Heiki crabs, a species with shells that look remarkably like angry samurai faces, and which were featured in Carl Sagan’s Cosmos miniseries. Supposedly they got that way because of centuries of superstitious fisherman throwing back the most human face-looking shells…

  17. Anonymous says:

    I went to college up near there, and was told that the base was still active and that the albino deer were more sensitive to radiation leaks than were normal deer, so if there was a leak the deer would die and that would alert the army to the leak. It didn’t make any sense then, and it still doesn’t make any sense now, given that actual radiation detectors would be much more accurate, but it’s funny to see the kind of stories people come up with to tell other people.

  18. Takuan says:

    ..wait… I know this one…The Yiddish Policeman’s Union?

  19. BobbyMike says:

    It’s nice to know that there was room for whimsy in a General’s heart during WWII.

    As to the assertion by ChrisFrelin (#7)concerning the deers recessive genes and that maybe they are meant to be more susceptible to predators, Chris are you really saying that evolution (by using natural selection) is a conscious, thinking process?

    Or did I just read that wrong?

  20. gollux says:

    Save the white deer, reduce the developers to a forth of their current population!

  21. gollux says:


    Since all the major deer predators (barring humans) have been killed off by humans, the evolutionary pressure kind of isn’t there anymore. So, what you are seeing is current “Natural Selection”. If you can name a current deer predator near populated areas besides hunters that’s numerous enough to hunt white deer with any population effect, you get a cookie.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Evolution may be a conscious, thinking process (it’s certainly hard to prove the negative) but it just doesn’t work that way. The only thing “meant to be” is change as far as evolution is concerned… conscious or not.

    These white deer have been interbreeding with the east coast whitetail population for decades and the “cow deer” are commonplace from Maine to Georgia these days.

    There are several that visit my yard. My hunter friends claim the pure white ones are often deformed and goatlike, with crooked, shortened legs; but I have seen no evidence of this personally.

  23. SednaBoo says:

    Another U.S. Gov’t site with white deer is here at Argonne National Labs, outside Chicago. The non-native fallow deer are of the white coloration inside here, and the white-tails and mule deer are kept outside the fence. Apparently they are the remnants of a herd for sport hunting from before it was taken over as a DoE site.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I remember the Argonne white deer from the 70s when my father worked there. Glad to see they still persist!

  25. Lobster says:

    And as an added bonus, if we ever need the food for the war effort they’ll be easy to spot! :P

  26. Anonymous says:

    Human’s are animals as well. We play as much a natural role in natural selection as any other animal. The arguments I’ve read here are something like “The General’s decision was an un-natural, or artificial decision” if I were to carry that ‘axiom’. Natural selection continues based soley on the whimsy of whatever animals are natural.

    Besides those deer aren’t deformed. Natural selection only actions on the phenotype not the genotype. Their fur doesn’t matter.

  27. Anonymous says:

    There are several thiks that eat a whitetail deer. Bears eat them he can run faster than a deer for a shot distance. Any kind of big cat eat deer such as the mountain lion.The deer most feared enemy besides humans would be a coyote they kill alot of deer and can hurt the population. They do not normally kill full grown deer but when they give birth they will eat the young and ive seen them hurt the populaion around my area pretty bad.

  28. chrisfrelin says:

    BobbyMike – refer to #11 by immutablyme… more eloquent than me – same gist.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Shades of Quintus Sertorius (the so-called Roman Hannibal) and his totemic white fawn Diana.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Take that Charles Darwin! Natural selection is for the weak.

  31. entropyred says:

    Thanks for this article, my dad and I (both biology geeks) have been puzzling over the occasional white-but-not-albino deer for a few years now. Deer are like rats where we live (like #22 said, East Coast of Canada) so seeing a family group of seven or more at once every day is no big deal. There was just one to start, spotted white, and then a white foal appeared so the gene is being passed on. Considering the size of the population it’s only natural that we’ve got a few double-recessives wandering around.

  32. Ouroboros Again says:

    Long Island’s Brookhaven National Laboratory has a lovely flock (?) of wild turkeys

    <3 Jason

  33. a_user says:

    non profit organisation please, unless you enjoy sounding like a pre schooler.

  34. Anonymous says:

    “#4 posted by Anonymous, June 16, 2009 1:41 AM

    Take that Charles Darwin! Natural selection is for the weak.”

    Hahahahahaahaha :)
    That’s not what I hear.

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