Thanks to a protected, predator-free environment, a herd of rare white deer has swelled to more than 200 at the former Seneca Army Depot in Seneca County, New York. In 1941, the Army opened the storage and disposal facility on 10,500 verdant acres. Eight years later, the first white buck and fawn were spotted on the property. Fast-forward another half-dozen years to when the depot commander, Col. Franklin Kemble Jr., issued orders not to hunt the white deer — a move widely credited with enabling the deer population to thrive through the ensuing decades. The Seneca White Deer breed freely with brown deer sharing their habitat; the ratio of brown to white deer currently runs 3-to-1. The fate of the white deer population seems uncertain as the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency weighs options for the property’s future. The nonprofit Seneca White Deer Inc. has proposed creating an ecotourism center at the Depot that would not only highlight the local fauna but also honor the area’s military history.
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Photo Credit: Carl Patrick