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Rare New York White Deer Herd May Be in Jeopardy

Seneca White Deer

The Seneca white deer herd has an uncertain future as their home, a former weapons site, is for sale. 

A former Army weapons depot in Seneca, New York is home to a herd of white deer that face an uncertain future after living undisturbed for 60 years.

A genetic alteration naturally occurs in this herd making the deer completely white, not albino. The herd has been living on the 7,000-acre, fenced-in stretch of land that consists of former Cold War bunkers used to store bombs and ammunition. However, today it’s just a decommissioned relic.

Local officials are looking to put the old Seneca Army Depot up for bid next month which could seriously hinder the future of the rare white deer herd.

white deer
Fey Works

Seneca White Deer, a non-profit dedicated to saving the animals, has proposed turning the old depot into a tourist attraction surrounding the military history of the area and the white deer herd.

The Nature Conservancy also aims to protect the vast natural area.

The white deer herd has grown to 200, mainly due to the 24 miles of fencing that has protected the deer since 1941.

Obviously white deer face serious challenges against predators due to their vibrant white coats. There are other small herds of white deer across the world, but the Seneca Army Depot has the largest known population of white whitetailed deer.

If the buyers of the Seneca Army Depot decide to take the fencing down, there is less chance of the herd’s survival.

However, some hunting has been allowed on the depot in the past. Chris Brackett, host of “Fear No Evil” drew a tag for the depot and was able to tag a “unicorn” of whitetail deer since they are so rare. Drawing a tag, was like winning the lottery according to Brackett.

Chris Brackett Unicorn
Outdoor Channel

Bob Aronson, executive director of the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency, stated he planned to sell the Army depot by the end of the year. All offers will be considered. Most interest has been from farmers who would graze cattle or grow crops.

A fundraising effort has been launched by Seneca White Deer. They hope to raise enough funds to buy at least 2,000 to 3,000 acres, if not the whole Army base, for a tourist attraction and wildlife preserve. Donations can be made on Seneca White Deer’s website.

The director of the Nature Conservancy’s regional chapter, Jim How, is conferring with several groups about protecting the former depot’s wildlife habitat.

The depot is within the borders of two towns. Aronson has offered the two towns the chance to purchase the property for a certain dollar amount if they would like to develop the land themselves.

Varick Town Supervisor Bob Hayssen has stated his town is considering that deal.


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Rare New York White Deer Herd May Be in Jeopardy