What is a Piebald Deer? An Encounter with (an almost) Ghost of the Forest in Ohio

Hiking in nearly any wooded or natural area is probably one of my favorite outdoor activities.  It is wonderful to disconnect from the day's chaos and reconnect with the world around us.  We spend a lot of weekends hiking as a family throughout Ohio--and really--much of the Midwest.  This week brought us something new:  a brief, fairly camouflaged encounter with our first Piebald Deer.  What is a Piebald Deer?  I thought I would share some images (while a bit blurred) and information on an almost Ghost of the Forest.

What is a Piebald Deer?  According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, a Piebald deer is a White-tail deer with a genetic abnormality resulting in patches of white fur.  Many times a Piebald deer will more closely resemble a Pinto pony than a normal white-tail.  While this genetic oddity is the most common coloring abnormality in white-tailed deer--it is still rare--ocurring in 1% of the white-tailed deer population.

Piebald deer often show signs of other defects as well--like shorter legs, an arched spine or short lower jawline. 

The Piebald Deer that my husband photographed made me immediately think of a horse.  He was absolutely beautiful!  He was mostly white with patches of brown.

Ohio has a large white-tailed deer population--and we see deer daily in our suburban yard and even in the city parks.  I saw a statistic that less than 1 in 3000 white-tailed deer will show the recessive, Piebald coloring genes. 

Almost a "Ghost of the Forest".  The Piebald deer that my husband saw was not completely white--but, we could certainly understand how glimpsing one in the trees could leave a spine-tingling, "ghost-sighting" feeling.

 This view shows a little more of the white coloring of his fur.

Unfortunately, Ohio does not protect Piebald or Albino (all white) deer or deer with Melanism (all black). I know that deer can be a nuisance (they eat my tulips every year)--but, seeing this rare sight was a wonderful surprise.

.....and proof that we can learn and experience something new every day if we explore the world around us!

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