Rare white deer spotted in Raleigh near Beltline

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- An ABC11 viewer snapped a photo of a rare all-white buck in Raleigh last weekend.

Don Wilson said the deer frequents a wooded area near his neighborhood between the Beltline and Capital Boulevard. He said the area is a hot spot for deer -- he's seen up to 10-15 at a single time.

Falyn Owens, the extension wildlife biologist for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, said it's not unusual for deer to be spotted at this time of year.

"This is getting pretty close to peak," Owens said, and she added that deer typically mate between October and November. She said at this time, motorists need to be particularly aware of deer in roadways.

Owens said there are two genetic mutations that could cause a deer to be completely white: piebaldism and albinism. Piebald deer can vary from a few white splotches to being completely white with dark eyes. Albino deer are always white, but have red or pink eyes.

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Wilson said the buck in his neighborhood seemed to have reddish eyes, but he couldn't get closer than a few hundred feet away without spooking it.

Owens also said the buck appeared to be healthy, adding that piebald deer often have skeletal deformities such as a curved spine or short legs. Owens said that it is much more likely for a piebald deer to have these deformities than an albino deer, because the mutation that causes piebaldism is found on a gene linked to skeletal development.

While albino deer may not have the same physical deformities as piebald deer, Owens said, they are usually more visible to predators. However, in an urban environment like Raleigh, there are fewer predators and albino deer may have a better chance at survival.

"These are mutations that happen at a certain frequency," Owens said.

Piebaldism is more common - -happening in one out of every 1,000 deer. Albinism, on the other hand, happens in about one out of every 30,000 deer, according to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.

While Owens said North Carolinians do not need to report piebald or albino deer sightings to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, anyone who sees an unusual or odd animal and has questions is welcome to call the agency's Human Wildlife Interaction Hotline at (866) 318-2401.

"They're neat in the environment," Owens said.

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