They say the early bird gets the worm.
If that’s the case, Laurie Turgeon of Whitefish found a gem.
Turgeon and her husband went up Glacier National Park’s North Fork last Friday early to beat the crowds. As she was driving up there she spotted a whitetail doe in a meadow. But next to it was something peculiar.
“We saw what we thought was a white rock,” she said.
But then the rock got up and started to nurse the doe. It was an albino fawn, she said.
It had the trademark pink nose, she said.
“I’ve never seen one before in my life,” she said. “Pretty amazing sight for sure.”
Albinism is the combination of two recessive genes in both parents, so it’s a pretty rare occurrence, noted Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Jessy Coltrane,
Being all-white doesn’t bode well for long-term survival, Coltrane noted.
“They’re kind of a target,” Coltrane said. “They don’t blend in very well.”
While it is illegal to hunt in Glacier, the Park has a host of predators that feed on deer, including wolves, lions and bears.
Hunting them outside the Park is legal during the hunting season; though in 1997 the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks commission made it illegal to shoot any deer exhibiting more than 75 percent white coloration in central Montana’s Golden Valley County.
The regulation was rescinded in 2013. That particular area at the time had enough deer breeding with the recessive genes to make the deer a fairly common sight.
In 2009, FWP biologist Tim Manley caught an albino black bear near Olney. FWP, through a cooperative arrangement with Glacier, released the bear into the Park so it wouldn’t get shot by hunters.