British Columbia

Albino deer in Fort St. John delights local residents

A rare albino deer spotted in Fort St. John is delighting residents in northern B.C. after it was seen around town.

A white deer, thought to be an albino, has been the talk of the town in Fort St. John

A rare albino deer spotted in Fort St. John is delighting residents in northern B.C. after it was seen around town.

"Everyone's super excited," says resident Sheri Ashdown. "They're talking about the white bear and how it symbolizes so many things so everyone's really excited to see the white deer."

White bears, known as Spirit Bears, are a rare white-furred, black bear that has strong significance to some First Nations people.

But Ken Otter, a biology professor at the University of Northern B.C., says evidence points to the deer more likely being an albino than a white-furred exception.

"It looks very much like it's an albino deer," says Otter.

He says the photos he's seen show the white deer has a light-coloured nose and eyes. That indicates it's not producing any dark pigment at all, which is a sign of albinism.

Otter says there are populations of white deer across North America — they have the same genetic mutation as Spirit Bears. However, Otter says none of them live near northern B.C., thereby increasing the likelihood that this is an albino deer.

Those concerned for the deer's well-being can rest assured: Otter says white deer in the U.S. tend to fare well because they are seen as special.

"They actually do fairly well because people are fairly keen on them and they don't hurt them or harm them," says Otter.

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