SAUK CITY, Wis. - A hunter killed a rare white deer over the weekend, setting off a controversy in Sauk County.
Leland, which is about 15 miles northwest of Sauk City, is home to about eight white and albino deer. The deer are so rare that the town of avid hunters has formed a truce to keep them safe -- until this weekend, when an out-of-towner bagged a buck.
It was a legal kill. White and albino deer aren't protected in chronic-wasting disease zones. Also, the deer isn't true albino; it has a small dark spot on its rear, so it wouldn't be protected.
Does all this matter in Leland? Not for some local residents.
The handful of white and albino deer that call the area home are extremely rare creatures that locals refer to as treasures.
"The first one appeared probably nine years ago," said Leland resident Brandon Yanke. "You wouldn't believe the hundreds of people who come just to see those deer."
But word of a hunter killing a white deer over the weekend has spread fast, leaving locals at the town and avid hunters dismayed and upset.
"I was pissed (about the deer kill)," said resident Amy Sprecher. "I just can't understand how people can be so selfish -- not thinking about the beauty for everybody to share, how rare they are."
The white deer are so special to Sprecher that she has named them.
"This is a moral issue, completely, and it is really disappointing," Yanke said. "And that's kind of how we've all felt. It's so unique to have something like that around."
The locals said they can't believe anyone would kill one of the deer. The town has made a pact to protect the rare deer, especially the big buck that was shot by a hunter Saturday.
"Everybody says we're not going to shoot this deer. It's too special," Yanke said.
As for the hunters responsible for killing the buck, their camp was abandoned. Residents told WISC-TV that the hunters are from Fond du Lac and are planning to be back for more hunting this weekend.Killing of white deer ignites controversy in Sauk County
"I hope they feel like they're a big strong hunter because they took out the white deer and stole it from everybody," Sprecher said.
Some avid hunters in town told WISC-TV that, legal or not, they would have let that buck go because of how rare and beautiful it was.
Residents said they want the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to do more to protect the rare deer even if they're not a full albino and even if they are in a CWD zone.