Friday, December 14, 2007

Freddy got Fingered...or Frozen...or F$#@!@!

Freddy, the majestical white deer

From the Lake Sun Leader:

CAMDEN COUNTY - Residents are calling foul against the possibility that a hunter shot an albino deer that was known to roam throughout the woods near the Camden and Morgan counties border. Lovingly named Freddy by those in the neighborhood, his snow-white fur had become a welcome sight. Residents had hoped hunters also would appreciate the rare sight of Freddy and let him be, rather than kill him.
At the start of firearms season, many weighed the consequences of a public campaign to protect the button buck from hunters or the possibility the attention would cause more hunters to head their way.In the end, it didn't make a difference, said resident Dawn Merrill.Rumors have been circulating through the neighborhood that Freddy was killed.
It's such a shame. I've never seen him and now I won't ever be able to, Merrill said. We used to slow the car down every day to and from work just so we could maybe catch sight of him and say we saw him. He (the hunter) took that away from us.Merrill said the neighborhood used to talk only of Freddy sightings; who and where he was last sighted. Now that talk has switched to who killed him and when.Merrill said the neighborhood has a good idea.
They have a business here, a vested interest in the neighborhood, but this shows that they just don't care, she said.She said after the last article published, she hoped hunters would have realized how important the deer was to the neighbors and how much everybody enjoyed seeing him.Albinism is a recessive trait found in everything from mammals and birds to reptiles, fish and even plants.
The complete absence of color, noted particularly by the white hooves and the red or pink eyes, causes the animal to stand out against its surroundings and makes concealment hard.Camden County conservation agent Sean Ernst said Freddy had a strike against him from the start.A deer's major defenses is blending in, with white fur he was easily spotted by predators such as coyotes and hunters, Ernst said.
He was able to confirm he's heard the same rumor, that Freddy was tagged.Merrill said Freddy's uniqueness wasn't a disability, but beautiful.Animals turn away from another animal with abnormal characteristics, she said. Freddy was seen and photographed with his own mother and other deer, proving he was accepted by his population.
Because albinism is a recessive trait, both parents must carry the gene before it can occur in their offspring. Even then, there's only a one-in-four chance they will produce an albino fawn. Based on hunter reports, about one deer in 30,000 in Missouri is albino, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation Web site.There are at least seven states that make it illegal to hunt albino deer. Missouri is not one of them.

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