Deer are everywhere this time of year – crossing roads, hanging out by shrubbery, racing through the woods. One Fallston resident, however, recently noticed a more unusual looking deer than what is generally seen around her home.
Valerie Waudby said she has seen a "white" deer near her home on Laurel Brook Road for the past several weeks and even took a video of the animal. Deer are particularly abundant around Waudby's home near Gunpowder Falls State Park, where hunting is prohibited.
"It looked to me like it was 99 percent white and it just hangs around with some other deer," she said, explaining she did not even think it was a deer at first when she saw it in her yard.
"The dogs looked out and I was like, 'Oh my God, what is that?'" she said. "I thought it was a goat."
When she got closer, Waudby realized she just saw an uncommon looking deer.
"Of course, they got a little spooked and started running and I thought, 'Wow, that is a deer,'" she said.
She has since seen the deer about four times, hanging out in her backyard in the evening.
Waudby could not tell if it was a true albino, she said, but suspected it was a piebald, a type of animal with spotted or patched pigments of skin.
In an e-mail Monday, Waudby wrote: "I just saw the white deer again. I got a closer picture and saw that it does have brown and black markings on its head. That means it's probably a piebald deer. Still amazing!"
She said she had read that the likelihood of such a deer occurring is about one in 30,000.
The piebald condition is very rare, typically affecting less than 1 percent of white-tailed deer, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
It is caused by a genetic variation in white-tailed deer, not parasites or diseases. Many such deer also have bowing of the nose, short legs, scoliosis or short lower jaws.
Waudby, for one, is just enjoying seeing it around.
"It catches my eye. The other deer blend in with their surroundings," she said of the piebald deer. "It's so easy to see. It's bright white."
In her video taken a few weeks ago, the "white" deer can clearly be seen running along with several brown deer. And, as Waudby suggested, at first glance it looks to be something other than a white-tail. [The video can be seen in its entirety at http://www.exploreharford.com]
Ron Norris, a wildlife biologist with the Department of Natural Resources, whose office represents Harford County, said he is not too surprised to hear about a piebald deer in the county.
"It's not all that uncommon," he said.
A piebald deer was seen across from the Fountain Green Swim Club on Route 543 near Bel Air several years ago, Norris said. It caused a small media sensation, after which someone went out and killed it, causing "a problem" for the wildlife division, he recalled Tuesday.
"People think its something mythical, like a unicorn, when it's just a deer," Norris added.