Plan Mounts to Save White Deer at Seneca Army Depot

Some 200 white ghostly deer wandering among an abandoned munitions depot is not the makings of a horror film, though it might be a good one. Instead, it’s the story of the Seneca Army Depot in Washington State.

Now, after the depot was decommissioned in 2000, the 7,000-acre property that was once an important storehouse of bombs during the Cold War will be up for sale soon, which means the fate of the white deer could be in jeopardy.

Ordinarily in the wild, animals with markings that stand out do not normally fair well, but the Seneca deer have benefited by a certain amount of protection from the effects of natural selection. In this case it comes in the form of a 24-mile rusted chain link fence, erected in 1941 and capturing a few dozen of the little creatures. 

Today the Seneca white deer draw visitors from all over to see the deer wandering among a defunct weapons depot. Meanwhile, the local Nature Conservancy is mounting an effort to buy the property and market the former depot as an attraction, according to an Associated Press story. 

The white deer are mixed with about 600 other brown deer and if the property is sold, the fence will likely be cut and the deer set free to roam outside the boundaries they’ve known since before the second world war. 

The owner of the property has also offered to sell a portion of the lot to local municipalities if they agree to manage the land.

Photo credit: Flickr CC