Seneca white deer

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Seneca White Deer inside the depot

The Seneca White Deer are a rare herd of deer living within the confines of the former Seneca Army Depot in Seneca County, New York. When the 10,600-acre (43 km2) depot was created in 1941, a 24-mile (39 km) fence was erected around its perimeter, isolating a small herd of White-tailed deer, some of whom had white coats. These deer are not albino, but instead carry a set of recessive genes for all-white coats.[1] The fence creates a genetic bottleneck causing high levels of inbreeding. The constant inbreeding (mating of close relatives to inbreeding depression which can lead to reduced fecundity and malformations.[citation needed] The white deer population behind the fence at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center is subject to severe foot and leg deformities leading to crippling.[1]

In the 1950s, the depot commander forbade GI's from shooting any white deer. The deer population has since grown to about 700 head, approximately 300 of which are white, making it the largest herd of white deer in the world.[2][3][4]

Future of the herd[edit]

Since the depot's closure, the future of the deer has been uncertain. The visibility of white deer makes them easy prey for hunters and natural enemies like coyotes, and such a herd would not survive in the wild. The depot land is New York's largest block of land available for development[5] and some new uses have been found for it. A new maximum security state prison was built on the eastern rim and the former barracks on the northern tip was converted into housing for troubled teenagers. Plans to buy 4,700 acres (19 km2) of land to build an ethanol and biofuel electricity production center and to plant crops of willow trees and switch grass to be converted into fuel was proposed.[6] In 2006, a business plan was submitted to the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency, owners of the depot property, to convert the land into a conservation park and Cold War museum, but the plan was denied.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Champagne, Denise (February 16, 2007). "White deer and more at old depot". Geneva, New York: Finger Lakes Times. p. 2. 
  2. ^ Solorzano, Bianca (December 16, 2006). "Can These Rare White Deer Be Saved?". CBS News. Retrieved November 15, 2008. 
  3. ^ York, Michelle (March 21, 2004). "Nurtured at Army Depot, Rare Deer Herd Is Suggested As a Key to Tract's Future". New York City: The New York Times. Retrieved November 15, 2008. 
  4. ^ Fallesen, Gary (October 15, 2006). "Rare deer spark depot tours". Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York: Gannett Company). p. 14D. 
  5. ^ Solorzano, Bianca (December 16, 2006). "Can These Rare White Deer Be Saved?". CBS News. Retrieved November 15, 2008. 
  6. ^ York, Michelle (March 13, 2007). "Rare White Deer Versus Ethanol: Conservationists at Odds in Seneca". New York City: The New York Times. Retrieved November 15, 2008. 
  7. ^ Kidd, David (November 169, 2006). "Advocate gives deer update". Geneva, New York: Finger Lakes Times. p. 4. 

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