Poll: Should hunting albino all-white deer in Michigan be illegal?

An 11-year-old Michigan boy killed a rare albino buck with a crossbow. Facing much criticism for shooting an exotic animal, this rare hunting accomplishment is sparking debate around Michigan. Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources says the boy did nothing illegal.

It is legal to harvest albino, all-white or piebald deer in Michigan. Piebald deer are white with some brown markings are all fair for game hunting. The DNR stated on it’s Facebook pages that part of the confusion about the legality may stem from the fact that until 2008 albino and all-white deer were protected in Michigan and could not be hunted.

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“The protection of albino/all-white deer was lifted for several reasons – the rule put hunters in a difficult situation because it was legal to take a piebald deer, but it can be difficult to determine if a deer is all-white, albino or piebald from a distance; there is no biological reason to protect the genetic trait that causes a deer to be all-white or albino,” said the DNR.

This amendment removes the protection for albino and all-white deer, and establishes the open/closed status for antlerless deer license sales for each DMU. According to a memorandum published by the DNR the rationale behind the lift on this ban is because it “is burdensome to the hunter to determine if a deer is an albino deer or meets the definition of an all-white deer while afield. There is no compelling scientific reason to protect these deer.”

The document states that “escaped exotic deer that are all-white have been protected by this regulation.” According to the DNR these free-ranging exotic deer should not be protected. The amendment allows for the hunting of albino deer and all-white deer during deer season.

The color tone of a deer’s fur and skin is a genetic trait that is scientifically classified as a disadvantage for avoiding predators and the all-white deer may not be truly “albino”. They were escaped exotic animals with the potential to spread disease into the wild deer herd, something DNR officials do not want to promote by protecting these deer.

More information about the rationale behind removing the protection on all-white and albino deer in 2008 can be found here.

While it is legal to harvest an all-white, albino or piebald deer in Michigan, the DNR say they “understand and appreciate the many viewpoints on this issue from hunters and non-hunters alike, provided those opinions and values are expressed in a respectful way.”