South Carolina

Deer with rare genetic condition spotted on South Carolina island, officials say

SC DNR/Facebook

The photo shared by wildlife officials shows a small deer, white with black spots almost like a Dalmatian, standing in brush at the edge of a field.

It’s called a piebald deer, and officials with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said it was spotted on Edisto Island.

“Piebaldism is an inherited genetic anomaly in deer,” the department said on a Facebook post sharing the photograph.

Deer with piebaldism don’t normally survive, DNR said. “They can have a number of congenital defects, including pronounced overbite (parrot jaw), malformed legs, scoliosis of the spine and internal organ issues,” according to DNR.

Some piebald deer that don’t have major health problems can survive, the department said.

“The piebald anomaly is mainly a curiosity” and does not mean there’s a broader problem with the deer population, DNR said. “It is simply an individual animal issue.”

Edisto Island is a marshy island south of Charleston that is home to Edisto Beach. Mickey Crowell shared the photo of the unusual deer with DNR, according to the department.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said, “Piebaldism has been observed in less than 2 percent of the whitetail deer population.”

Piebalds characteristically have varying amounts of white hair in their coat, ranging from slight amounts on the legs or sides to an almost totally white coat. These deer will have some brown hair and brown eyes,” according to the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife.

“Piebald deer are uncommon, typically occurring at less than one percent of the population, but can be more common on a local basis,” the division said.

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.