White deer attract attention in SE Mo.

CAPE GIRARDEAU (AP) — White deer seen in the herd in Cape Girardeau are attracting attention in southeastern Missouri.

A white doe has been seen eating in a grassy field among a herd of other deer, and several people have watched a white fawn grow into a buck that now roams inside Cape Girardeau’s city limits. The Southeast Missouri reports that it is unclear how many white deer are in the area.

William Eddleman, a former biology professor at Southeast Missouri State University, said he believes the deer are true albinos. He now is the associate provost and dean of the graduate school at the university. Albinos are uncommon because even two deer that both have the recessive gene trait have only a 25 percent chance of giving birth to an albino.

The Missouri Department of Conservation does not track the number of albinos in the state’s deer herd. Some organizations have estimated albinos occur in 1 in 10,000 to 100,000 deer.

But it could be more common in an urban setting where the deer population is more likely to be inter-breed.

“It’s like going to the casino. Sometimes you win the slot machine and sometimes you don’t,” said John Scheibe, who is a biology professor at Southeast Missouri State University.

Albinos lack pigment and are white with a pink nose and pink around their eyes. Because they lack the brown camouflage of other deer, they are more susceptible to predation. Cape Girardeau conservation agent Kyle Booth said it is not uncommon for albino fawns to not survive their first year.

Missouri permits hunting of albino deer.

Earlier this month, the white buck in Cape Girardeau was spotted in a park by a man playing fetch with his dogs. Jim Butler, who estimates he was 31 steps away, said he also saw the deer when it was younger and cars would gather to watch to watch it feed in another area.

“A lot of people have seen him grow up,” Butler said.

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