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The White Deer Need Your Help

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Please Donate to Save the Seneca White Deer
January 16th, 2016
 

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The following is a guest post submitted by Joel Helfrich.

Submit your story today.

The fate of the largest herd of white white-tailed deer in the world is at stake. But you can do something to help.

Although these deer are not albino, they are extremely rare. Their very presence is a small miracle. The Seneca white deer have thrived for decades within a 10,000-acre fenced former military munitions supply base called the Seneca Army Depot, about an hour-long drive from Rochester, which provided munitions for all U.S. wars between World War II and the first Gulf War…

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After trying for 15 years to entice businesses to locate at the Depot, the Seneca County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) has decided to sell the property. Bids opened in December 2015 and close on February 29, 2016. As a result of the IDA’s actions, the fate of the white deer is to be determined.

The IDA’s announcement has created an opportunity for a not-for-profit 501©(3) organization that I support calledSeneca White Deer, Inc. (SWD) icon_link.gif, to purchase a portion (likely 2-3,000 acres) of the remaining 7,000-acre parcel and convert it to a world-class ecotourism facility—arguably the first such facility in New York State. If successful, the white deer herd would be saved.

Moreover, the Depot would be open for tours; bicycling, camping, and hiking; visits by veterans, schoolchildren, and citizen taxpayers; and eventually offer an opportunity for tourists to stay at the base. In fact, SWD tickets sold out during its tours in 2006, 2009, and 2012. Other considerations include wetland restoration, a solar energy field, a Cold War Museum, and all types of conservation biology work. There is also the possibility that a coalition of universities would use the space, as was seen with Applied Sciences NYC. Imagine a coalition of universities that would join together, locate together, and tackle sustainability concerns and climate change.

I know that the SWD’s plan will work because the organization’s unpaid director, Dennis Money, has a proven track record of making conservation projects work, first by reintroducing the peregrine falcon to Rochester, then by helping the River Otter, then running the Genesee Waterway Center icon_link.gif, among many other activities.

Astoundingly, the plan by SWD is supported by groups as diverse as The Nature Conservancy (a conservative environmental organization), the editors of the Democrat and Chronicle, the Seneca County Chamber of Commerce, tourism groups, winery owners, and other businesses, among many others.

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People have traveled to the Depot in recent years from as far away as Alaska, California, Texas, and Kansas, just to see the white deer. It is believed that the Seneca Army Depot’s white deer will draw people from various international climes, once SWD assumes control of the property.

I ask that you share this blog post with anyone you know who might be able to help support the SWD’s fundraising efforts.

PLEASE NOTE: John and Josephine Ingle, owners of Heron Hill Winery on Keuka Lake, have promised a $200,000 challenge grant icon_link.gif if SWD can match the money by January 31, 2016.

Seneca White Deer is working closely with The Nature Conservancy to become a serious bidder. This will be the only opportunity to save the white deer and the Depot’s history. If unsuccessful, the acreage will likely go to Amish and other farmers and the white deer will be lost forever.

• • â€¢

For additional reading, see:

  1. Walter Gable and Carolyn Zogg, The Seneca Army Depot: Fighting Wars from the New York Homefront icon_link.gif
  2. Seneca White Deer, Inc. icon_link.gif
  3. White Deer Photo display at Canandaigua National Bank Main Office in Canandaigua until the end of March

 

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Not good for the species to protect recessive traits. Fun to look at?....sure. Good for the species in the wild?......probably not. Put a population in a zoo or keep them in an enclosure.

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Are there many recessive traits and not all are problematic. Why would this gene be an issue in the wild ? I should think a contained population here would be just fine. Interesting consideration for sure.

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They stick out like a sore thumb.  In the wild they would be the first to be shot, the first to be seen by Coyotes.  The reason you find black moths and black squirrels in cities is the exhaust from industry and cars leave a black stain on everything so the black color doesn't stand out to predators and thus are not naturally selected for.  If Whitetails lived in the arctic.....the white gene might become dominant similar to Polar Bears and Arctic Fox.

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The deer are not albinos by the way. I can't help but wonder if genetic mutation is involved and possibly related to radiation. Many of those bunkers housed nuclear weaponry. It is interesting that nobody mentions having the area checked relative to that before offering it for sale or those folks buying it.

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Les, the white gene is present in a lot of animal species.  The only reason there are so many whites at the Sampson base is they were protected from hunters and there is a fence.  Artificial selection.  Brown deer were allowed to be shot and white ones were not. 

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They use to let hunters shoot the white deer my buddies dad got one out of there when they allowed you to hunt there

Sent from my C5170 using Lake Ontario United mobile app

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Gill your correct, the recessive gene was protected back in the 50's from the base's colonel, allowed the herd to continue the inbreeding. My friends dad worked there, we hunted the igloos and areas like the Q and Loran C. He took a white buck, beautiful coat. Some real monsters have come out of there. Les, you are correct about contamination, huge plume in the ground water, wouldn't touch it with a 10 ft pole. Hate to think what's made it to the east side of the lake. Chlorinated solvents made its way through the aquifer.

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I got the chance to hunt the depot six years ago. To say they stick out like a spot light is an understatement. I could see multiple white deer walking through very dense brush like the brush was not even there. The regular brown whitetails that were walking with them were unseen until they walked out of the brush. They would be decimated if they were in the wild.

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Back in the 90ies a friend who lived on the north shore of Oneida Lake spotted a white buck in a horse coral, he watched through fall till deer season opened and it disappeared till spring, then later in the summer it was seem with a brown doe and a white fawn.Thats a big piece of woods,and its fairly flat and hard to hunt and got a lot of snow. When I retired I lost track of the guy who was watching them so I can't tell if there is any whites left in that area. I have seen white deer outside the fence on Rt 414.

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I guess one of the reasons I mentioned the radiation issue is that back in the 60's I stood right next to those nuclear weapons most days that came from there at my base over in Germany. We had docimeters (measure radioactivity) that we were required to wear at all times while on duty and they collected them enmass when we left there but nobody was personally identified with them or given any information regarding the info they collected so I'm pretty sure there may be some radiation "issues" at least for the mass storage of them. At the time the depot was the third largest nuclear storage area in the world.  I am not worried about any security breach of the info at this point as the facility has been closed for many years but I still can't help but wonder about the contamination issue.

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Agreed Les. I PM'd the original poster that if he wanted to stop development the best course of action is to get an independent testing company to check for chemical and nuclear contamination. I would like to see the state purchase the land and open it up to sportsmen as a WMA.

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I have driven by that base so many times that I can't even fathom how many and I have yet to see a white deer by the fence. 

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Yeah It would be great to have a lottery for the guys that want to hunt it. There are white deer down by me on the out skirts of the Big Flats area. Cool to see but genetic defect and could later impact herd health. No one knows for sure if those deer are truly healthy.

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Last year I took 3 buddies from other states out fishing from Sampson and on the way out there I mentioned about the white deer and how they are very often out there.....they said "sure Les ....yeah... white deer... right ". You might know them none were around nor anything else for that matter so they busted me all day and then during the way back same deal. Later I scoured my hard drives for previous photos of them and finally located a couple which I promptly sent to them with the caption "There you aholes" :lol:  Thankfully I had the proof :)

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I just used the DEC suggestion site for Whitetails to suggest the Sampson Air Force Base be studied as a possible location to start an Elk herd restoration project.

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I am curious - Does this constitue a high fence hunt?  Or do the animals have to be hand fed as well?

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I just used the DEC suggestion site for Whitetails to suggest the Sampson Air Force Base be studied as a possible location to start an Elk herd restoration project.

I second that! Get rid/release the white deer and get some elk back into NY!

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Protect and Respect at the top of our forum doesn't  just apply to fish and Honey Holes .   It Applies to all Gods Creatures.

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I have driven by that base so many times that I can't even fathom how many and I have yet to see a white deer by the fence. 

I have yet to see one on the east side , on the west side very few times do I drive from Willard past Samson with out seeing them.....

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It is not every day that 10,000 fenced acres becomes available. Perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring elk into New York and give the region another shot in the arm as a drive-thru state park where visitors can see elk and white deer from their cars and/or viewing areas. People come from all over to see the Pennsylvania herd in September. I will see if I can write some letters ( I have been doing that a lot lately).

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Looks like it is 2,000 acres.  There is a development plan that was completed in October, 2015 and I am not sure why there is concern for the "white deer".  As long as the fence stays up they will exist.  Probably not enough acreage for Elk.

 

http://nysparks.com/inside-our-agency/documents/MasterPlans/SampsonStatePark/SampsonStateParkDraftSampsonStateParkMasterPlan.pdf

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Looks like it is 2,000 acres.  There is a development plan that was completed in October, 2015 and I am not sure why there is concern for the "white deer".  As long as the fence stays up they will exist.  Probably not enough acreage for Elk.

 

http://nysparks.com/inside-our-agency/documents/MasterPlans/SampsonStatePark/SampsonStateParkDraftSampsonStateParkMasterPlan.pdf

I have to agree 2,000 isn't big enough. 10,000 on the other hand would have been perfect for a couple healthy herds. Man I was hoping.

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From pictures I have seen the fence is not high enough to keep Elk inside.

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