Is there a Future for Seneca’s White Deer?

Can the white deer survive if left on their own until ownership of the property changes hands?

Romulus, NY, Friday, February 2, 2017 – The glorious white deer of Seneca County were once a thriving herd. In 1969 there were an estimated 220 white deer within the confines of the 24 mile long perimeter fence that surrounded the Seneca Army Depot. At that time it was considered the largest herd of its kind anywhere in the world.

Unfortunately, the years since that time have seen a dramatic decline in the white deer numbers within the herd; most notably since the Seneca Army Depot closed in 2000. Without the Military’s deer herd management program, many of the deer starved. Additionally, the absence of an active perimeter patrol of the secured base has allowed breaches in the fence to go unnoticed and unrepaired, and as a result the deer have ventured outside the fence in search of food. Once outside the protection of the fence, the chances of a white deer’s survival is drastically reduced, as their beautiful white coat offers little to no camouflage from its predators.

Earl Martin, AKA Deer Haven Park LLC, immediately realized that in order for the herd to survive, fences needed to be repaired and additional food within the fence was necessary for the herd to eat. In July of 2016, shortly after learning that he had been awarded the winning bid by the Seneca County IDA, Mr. Martin began mending the fence and planting over 100 acres of beans and turnips as a food source for the deer during the upcoming months. By late fall there was significant evidence that the deer had been eating the crop in large numbers.

“By late fall there was significant evidence that the deer had been eating the crop in large numbers.”

Since August 2016 Deer Haven Park and Seneca County have been unsuccessfully trying to close on the property so that all parties can move forward with their plans for the future. While any deal of this magnitude (involving multiple jurisdictions, governmental offices and federal agencies) takes time and careful planning to complete, there are many unknown circumstances that can derail the efforts to close on the property for several months; or longer. That being said Deer Haven Park and the Seneca County IDA are working together and making progress toward the common goal of closing as soon as possible.

With a substantial amount of money and effort already invested in the preservation of the magnificent Seneca white deer, Deer Haven Park is prepared to continue to the next stages of their preservation. Unfortunately this can only happen if there is ownership or some legal tie to the property such as a lease. With a closing date uncertain, at best, the lease option is currently the only way to ensure continued and uninterrupted preservation of the white deer. It is the hope of Deer Haven Park that we will be able to continue toward our goal of once again bringing the white deer herd to a thriving status so that visitors can marvel in their unique and majestic beauty.

A white doe at Deer Haven Park, taken in the summer of 2016.