Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 28th, 2007
2007′s Top Five Melanistic Deer Hot Spots in America
In the tradition of my list of the top places to find melanistic squirrels in 2006, here’s a list of the top locations to see black deer in 2007.
1. Texas Hill Country, Central Texas.
It has been said that the eastern edge of Texas’ Edwards Plateau region and adjacent areas of the Blackland Prairie region are the epicenter of the world’s population of melanistic white-tailed deer, for reasons not well understood by zoologists.
In going over the scientific literature, Dr. John T. Baccus and John C. Posey of Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos have been unable to find any records of melanistic white-tailed deer being documented anywhere prior to 1929.
There are now more melanistic deer alive in Central Texas than in every other part of the planet combined. Melanism is actually fairly common in all or parts of eight counties of Texas: Hays, Travis, Comal, Williamson, Blanco, Guadalupe, Burnet and Caldwell.
Bobbie Fain took this “black” buck, outside the usual range of the melanistic deer, on the Rancho Encantado in Dimmit County, Texas, in 1997. Most melanistic deer live in Texas, with the highest number being around 150 miles northeast of this ranch. Photo by Gordon Whittington.
Woman with Central Texas black buck, 2004.
2. Western Slope near Loma, Colorado.
Colorado’s baby black deer, June 2005.
3. Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Andrew Hargrove shot this rare melanistic buck in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in 2002. Photo by Roger Hayslip.
4. Winnemucca, Humboldt County, Nevada.
In November 2007, sightings of a black mule deer (above) in the area around the county seat of Humboldt County, Nevada, were reported by the Nevada Department of Wildlife.
5. Southern Wisconsin.
To round out the list, it needs to be mentioned that there are random sightings of melanistic deer in various southern (e.g. Mississippi), eastern (e.g. Pennsylvania), and midwestern (e.g. Indiana) states. But for a longterm record of black deer outside of the West, look to an academic paper documenting black deer from Wisconsin.
W. Chris Wozencraft authored “Melanistic Deer in Southern Wisconsin” for the Journal of Mammalogy, Vol. 60, No. 2 (May, 1979).
Wozencraft detailed various cases, including, for example, a sighting by Mr. and Mrs. A. P. Dobbe of a pure black deer near Sayner, Wisconsin, on September 10, 1948.
In what locations and areas in North America have you noted melanistic white-tailed or mule deer?
For the hyperlink to “The Top Ten Cryptozoology Stories for 2007,” please click here.
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