DETROIT — A rare white deer has been attracting admirers almost since it was born last year, according to nature buffs and officials at Kensington Metropark near Milford.
“We started seeing her in spring ’17 — I’ve seen her quite a few times,” said Dave Kirbach, deputy director of the Metropark system — officially, the Huron-Clinton Metropark Authority.
“We’re pretty sure she’s a doe. She’s a little small, but this is her first year, and she got through the winter just fine,” Kirbach said Monday.
He said the unusual deer, whose coat is sheer white and which has a pink nose and blue-ish eyes, is one more reason that nature lovers enjoy coming to Kensington Metropark — about 30 miles west of Detroit.
“We’ve got blue herons and a bald eagle nesting out here. It’s really a thrill to see these creatures,” Kirbach said.
The white deer is often seen in early morning, grazing on the park’s east side near the entrance to the golf course, he said.
Among its fans recently were Mick McDonald, 48, and his fiancée, Karen Illinik, both of Brighton. At about 3:30 p.m. Saturday, “we were going down the road and she spotted it,” McDonald said.
He pulled over and Illinik filmed a video, which they’ve shared with the Free Press.
“I hope people see this and appreciate how beautiful this animal is. I hope nobody thinks to hunt it and just stick it on a wall,” McDonald said.
Nature photographer Lou Waldock, 64, of Howell said he has seen the white deer numerous times in his frequent visits to Kensington Metropark. Waldock said he knows the deer population so well that he remembers when the white deer was born.
“She was born in May last year. She was one of three triplets. Two were brown. I see her just about every morning,” Waldock said.
Unlike a true albino animal, which would have pink eyes, Kensington’s white deer has a pink nose but blue-ish eyes that indicate it’s a genetic variation less rare than an actual albino, according to the website ProtectTheWhiteDeer.com, based in Wisconsin.
Albino and other exotic, all-white deer were once illegal to hunt in Michigan but the state lifted protection of the creatures in 2008, according to previous Free Press reports. Nature buffs criticized Metropark officials in 2015 when sharpshooters, hired to reduce the deer herd because it was destroying vegetation, shot a rare white buck. Several states continue to have laws forbidding hunters from taking white deer. Such laws have been criticized by online naturalists, who call them a holdover from age-old bans on hunting the animals when they were linked to mystic powers.
In 2014, a Hartland boy, then 11, legally shot a 12-point white buck with a crossbow, but after the sixth-grader’s feat was posted online there were thousands of negative comments posted on USA TODAY'S website, including death threats against the youth and his father, according to the paper’s follow-up report.