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White Deer: Their New York State 'Preserve' Is For Sale

Dec 21, 2015 06:34 PM EST
An iconic group of white deer at a former military munitions base in New York's Finger Lakes
More than 300 pure-white deer live on a former military munitions base in New York's Finger Lakes region, which is up for sale. They've lived protected lives within its fencing since 1941. What will happen now?
(Photo : Photo: Dennis Money/Seneca White Deer, Inc.)

At a time of year when some of us are thinking of either reindeer or pure white snow, here's a bit of a combination: A herd of snow-white deer live in New York's Finger Lakes region, on a former army depot's grounds near the town of Seneca. Also, the property that has kept them in a protected group since 1941 is up for sale. 

Such deer, which are leucistic -- meaning they're white but still have dark eyes, and therefore are not albino -- are quite rare in the wild. This is because it rarely behooves deer to stick out like ghosts, in lives spent avoiding predators.

With that difference, they charmed a military commander back in 1941. That was shortly after a 24-mile chain link fence was built around the 10,000-acre Seneca Army Depot, according to a release. The location was set aside for munitions storage and disposal, and in the past held the nation's largest stockpile of Army nuclear weapons.

The herd of deer was caught behind the fence. The military commander forbade hunters on the base from shooting them, and the deer population eventually rose to more than 300.

The depot closed in 2000, and attempts to sell the land have not been successful in the past. But recently the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency (SCIDA) decided to send the property to public bid. At this point it has 7,000 acres.

Because the SCIDA does not plan to maintain the fence after the sale, it's possible the deer will scatter and disappear. One organization, Seneca White Deer, Inc., would like to buy at least half the property and design tours around the military-base leftovers and the white deer.

"This could be like the sexy image to get people to come out to the wild, out to the outdoors to learn about the beauty of wildlife," Dennis Money, president of Seneca White Deer, Inc., told CNY Central, according to Mother Nature Network. "This could be an economic engine for the local area, southern part of Seneca County, as well as, the Finger Lakes."

Feb. 29 is the deadline to submit a bid on the land, said the MNN article.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

-Follow Catherine on Twitter @TreesWhales

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