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Stories from the valley

White Deer: A unique find right here in the Sacramento Valley

Contributed by Paul Buttner

I recently had the pleasure of seeing a white deer and her little ones right in the heart of the Sacramento Valley. I spotted them at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area just outside of Live Oak.

I happened to be with my friend, Andy Atkinson, Manager of Gray Lodge, at the time we bumped into this very unique find.  Andy explained that, even though this deer looks like it might be an albino, it actually has pigment in its eyes so they simply call it a “white deer.”   He also explained that the offspring are not white because the gene for the brilliant white coloring is recessive.  In order for the offspring to also be white, both parents must have the recessive gene.  This limitation serves to keep occurrences of white deer quite rare.

While this was obviously the highpoint of my outdoor adventure that day, we also saw seemingly thousands of birds, including a hawk flying with a long dangling snake in its talons, dancing Sandhill Cranes looking to impress their hopeful future mates, a large and fairly unflappable pelican and many species of waterfowl enjoying the great habitats that Andy and his team work so hard provide each year. While it all looks and feels so wild, it is important to realize that it’s all a managed landscape out there now. Good thing we’ve got committed stewards of the land and adequate water supplies out there at Gray Lodge and our many other state and federal refuges to keep things hoppin’ out there in our great Sacramento Valley.

Kudos to the whole Gray Lodge Team and thanks for the great adventure!