Taking photographs of albino fawns has become natural for GJ’s Clymer family

This pied mule deer fawn was photographed in September on Piñon Mesa. Albinism is rare among wildlife and some studies indicate the chances of a deer being born albino is one-in-20,000. Photo by Jackie Clymer/Special to the Sentinel

The photo accompanying this entry shows the latest in what has become a bit of a tradition for Pat and Jackie Clymer of Grand Junction.

The pied, pinto-ish fawn in the photo was seen this September on Piñon Mesa in an area where the Clymers have seen for the past 15 years or so what they think are albino deer.

Jackie Clymer, who regularly photographs elk, bears and other wildlife on Piñon Mesa, said they’ve become accustomed to seeing albino fawns but rarely have seen an adult white deer.

This fawn, as you can see, was accompanying a normal-hued doe.

“We did see a young buck once, I guess he might have been 2 years old or so, but that was the only one,” said Jackie recently.

Not seeing full-grown albino deer or other wildlife isn’t surprising, considering the odds an albino faces in growing old.

Natural camouflage is a beautiful thing when it comes to avoiding predators, and the list of animals that make the most of being white — polar bears, ermine and Alice’s White Rabbit come to mind — is fairly short.

Otherwise, being colorless against a dark background is sort of setting the table for the first hungry carnivore sauntering past.

Albinism is a congenital disorder caused by the lack of melanin resulting in little or no color in the skin, hair, and eyes.

It’s also often accompanied by defects in vision, which could result in not recognizing a predator when it appears.

This fawn shows traits of normal coloration in its eyes and hooves, which may means it’s not a true albino but rather carries genes for a white coat.

The most famous example of white-coated but not true albinos is the Seneca White Deer living within the fenced-in area of the former Seneca Army Depot in Seneca County, New York.

When this base was created in 1941, a 24-mile fence around the perimeter isolated a small herd of white-tail deer, some with white coats caused by a recessive gene for all-white coats.

According to an entry on the almost-always right Wikipedia, the trapped deer suffer from inbreeding, which in turn allows various gene alignments “to be expressed as white deer. Incomplete alignment produces the piebald or brown/white splotched deer.”

One sure place to see true albino deer is Boulder Junction, Wis., a small town in north-central Wisconsin where albino deer are so common they are the subject of a book titled “White Deer: Ghost of the Woods.”

Among the photos by author and outdoor photographer Jeff Richter is one of a full-grown albino buck, complete with what OutdoorLife.com described as “snow-colored velvet antlers.”

It follows that whether it’s politics or wildlife, standing out isn’t always a good thing.

Louisiana wildlife officials this week said two juveniles have been arrested for illegally shooting and killing two whooping cranes, those stately white cranes whose wings may span seven feet.

The cranes were part of that state’s efforts to restore whooping cranes to Louisiana in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Service, the International Crane Foundation and the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.

The cranes were among the first of 10 whooping cranes in the wild in Louisiana since 1950.

This small, non-migratory flock has been designated as a non-essential, experimental population and is protected under state law and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Whooping cranes are considered the most-endangered crane species with fewer than 600 left in the world and only 400 in the wild.

Make that 398.


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