COLUMBIA - Deer often walk through Sharon Kinden’s half-acre yard on West Stewart Road. Even though she doesn't live far from downtown Columbia, the creek running through her backyard attracts wildlife.
Before Sunday, she'd never seen an albino deer.
“It was just an absolute shock when I did see it,” Kinden said. The fawn was eating from a deer feeder in her back yard.
"I just glanced out and there it was,” she said.
Lonnie Hansen, a Columbia-based resource scientist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, said that though albino deer are uncommon, they are not unheard of.
“Rare is the best way to put it,” Hansen said. “There are a half-dozen reports (of albino deer) each year, and we have 1 million deer in the state.”
Kinden has friends who live on Maplewood Drive who have also seen the albino deer. This was not surprising to Hansen, who said the albino gene is present in west Columbia.
“It is a recessive trait that requires the gene to be present in both the father and the mother," he said, adding "we seem to have that gene present in the western side of Columbia.”
Due to their color, albino deer often have lower rates of survival than the more common brown deer.
"They are kind of a genetic misfit," Hansen said. "They just stand out like light bulbs from a hunter's or predator's standpoint, especially when they're young."