Rare dark deer spotted in north central Iowa

A rare, dark-colored deer was recently spotted in north central Iowa.  

State wildlife experts say the unusual pigment is caused by a genetic abnormality.  

Jim Coffey with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources tells WHO and WMT Radio News the darker colored deer are known as melanistic, which a phase of coloration.   

He says the melanistic deer are likely the most rare, along with leucistic, or white-colored deer, and albino deer, which have no pigmentation. 

Coffey says these unusual colored deer may not have the same survival rate as other deer, because they stand out to predators.

The unusual colored deer are often found in Native American lore, as having a higher status.

Coffey says regardless of color, deer are on the move right now in Iowa because harvest is underway, and the deer are no longer able to take shelter in corn fields.  He says deer born this year are beginning to move a little more, and the fall rut will soon begin, which means more deer movement, and more potential for collisions with vehicles.

Coffey says complicating matters, there's less daylight.  He reminds drivers to reduce speed, keep plenty of distance between vehicles, and use good, defensive driving skills.   He also says when you see one deer, expect more traveling behind it.

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