A piebald deer walks in front of a trail camera. Credit: Courtesy of Jeremy Clark

Early in my outdoor writing career, I learned a valuable lesson while making a common mistake: I called a mostly white deer an “albino.”

The response was swift, and harsh, and readers — many, many readers — lined up to tell me that I was wrong. The photo I had shared showed a “piebald” deer. Not an albino.

A piebald deer walks down a path in this trail camera photo. Credit: Courtesy of Jeremy Clark

Today, I’m happy to share some great photos sent in by Jeremy Clark of Helenville, Wisconsin. They show (and this time, I’m sure of it) a piebald deer.

Since I don’t actually have a degree in deer-related matters, I reached out to Nathan Bieber, the deer biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and asked him to explain the basics.

A piebald deer is backlit by the setting sun in this trail camera photo. Credit: Courtesy of Jeremy Clark

“Piebald deer share a genetic recessive trait, so both of the deer’s parents have to carry the recessive gene for there to be a chance the offspring will be piebald,” Bieber said. “Piebald deer will have body pigments distributed abnormally, but an albino deer will be completely lacking pigment.”

And piebalds are pretty rare, because they face survival struggles before they’re even born, Bieber said.

“Most people think of piebald deer as just having some color differences, but most actually die in utero, and many have issues with their skeletal structure,” he said. “We have a lovely piebald doe with a [tracking] collar on it up in Allagash, for example, that has shortened front legs and an overbite.”

Do you have a trail camera photo or video to share? Send it to jholyoke@bangordailynews.com and tell us “I consent to the BDN using my photo.” In order to prevent neighbors from stopping by to try to tag particularly large bucks, moose or bears, some identities and towns of origin may be omitted.

John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...