What needs to change
We propose that the law which currently excludes protection of piebald deer statewide be revised, since the current laws provide a technicality that allows hunters to shoot almost totally white deer. Precedent for such a rule change exists in Iowa game law, which states that all deer that are over 50% white are protected.
What will happen if the white deer are not protected?
After the news came out about the trophy white buck being shot near Leland, another white deer was shot near Plain, and it is believed that another may have been shot near Loganville. The news stories have not only advertised the presence of the white deer in the community, they have advertised the fact that it is legal to shoot them. Readers of news websites who comment “Now I know where I’m going to hunt next year” may not be joking. And this is definitely not a joke for most Leland area residents or the white deer.
White deer as trophies
Because white deer are already extremely rare, and because they are legally protected in adjacent states (Illinois and Iowa), they represent both a highly desirable target and a financial incentive. The hunter of the trophy white buck that was shot this year sought out sporting goods stores who might buy the mount. Stores weren’t willing to pay as much as the hunter hoped, but he was able to sell the deer. Just thinking a white deer is valuable to sell could be devastating for the remaining population.
Why special treatment is necessary for white deer
Pure white deer, or even piebald (partially white) deer, are not ordinary in any sense of the word. They are so rare and so beautiful, they stand out for their uniqueness to both the admirer and the hunter. The problem is, once they are killed, they are no longer around for other people to view and enjoy. One person with one shot can destroy what hundreds of other people might enjoy watching for years to come. And not only is the white deer lost, but all of its potential offspring as well.
In the entire state of Wisconsin there is an estimated 1.5 to 1.8 million deer. There are only a very small number of white deer, most of which are in the Boulder Junction area in north central Wisconsin.
What are the laws regarding white deer in other states?
White deer are protected in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa (50% or more white), and Tennessee. Until fairly recently Minnesota and Michigan (1990-2008) also had protection for white and albino deer, but have since removed those laws. From 1997 to 2013, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks made it illegal to hunt albino deer in Golden Valley County, but that law was lifted in 2014.
Oklahoma had “protection” for white and albino deer from 1998 to 2012. The law required a hunter to get permission from the State Wildlife Director before shooting a white deer. Hunters argued that it was a senseless law, since permission was always given. It probably did, however, prevent impulsive kills, and the mere existence of the law gave the white deer some status.