Seeing a piebald deer last week feels like a major life event. If I had a “bucket list” encountering this genetically altered deer first hand would be on it for sure. Here in western PA, white-tailed deer are a common sighting and their population size often borders on nuisance. That being said, I can’t believe I haven’t seen one before now.
Well maybe it’s not so surprising. Piebald deer make up 1% of the deer population. White- tailed deer tend to blend into their surroundings with a brown and gray coat. Piebalds tend to stand out, predators take notice. This is probably why we don’t see more of these spotted deer.
A piebald deer has a coat similar to a pinto horse. In the case of the deer, it’s brown and white splotched. These deer can have other odd traits like shorter legs, arched spine, bowing nose and sometimes shorter lower jaws. All these traits are genetic, they are not caused by a disease.
For me, seeing that lovely deer in the woods last week was an event I won’t forget anytime soon. I encourage you to go out into the woods today, you never know what you might see!
by Jill Eudaly
photo by Jill Eudaly