Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council passed a resolution Friday, Dec.
22 adopting emergency regulations to protect a rare all-white deer
seen by hunters over the past two weeks on the Southern Ute Reservation.
The mule deer is not albino, but leucistic a condition
that describes a lack of all surface pigment but, usually, normally
colored eyes. It has been seen several times on the reservation
in mid-November by hunters and tribal staffers. To protect the animal,
the tribe's Wildlife Resource Management Division declined to say
where it's been spotted.
"An animal like this is a rarity anywhere," said tribal elder
Alden Naranjo Jr., who provided the cultural perspective to the
council prior to its decision. "Something like this that is once
in a lifetime
has a very high spiritual significance to it."
Naranjo said in the past, the reservation occasionally has seen
similarly rare animals including a pinto deer but
they received no special protection and were harvested. He encouraged
the council to ensure things were different this time.
"I think we've been blessed with an animal of this significance
on the reservation," he said.
Members of the council unanimously agreed. Councilman Howard
D. Richards Sr. said each time he prays, he asks for protection
of the wildlife.
"I respect that, and I want to move forward with [the resolution],"
Councilman Alex S. Cloud said it's important that both tribal
members and tribal law enforcement officials know about the deer's
"The Creator has given us this gift, this animal, so we need
to protect it," he said.
Under the tribal constitution, the council's emergency regulations
may take effect without prior advertisement, but will only last
90 days unless there's a vote to extend them. And critically, Wildlife
Resource Management Division Head Steve Whiteman added, they only
apply as long as the deer remains within the reservation boundaries.
The white deer is a significant symbol in several cultures.
In Christianity, Saint Eustace was converted after a vision in which
he saw a white stag with a cross between his antlers while hunting.
In Celtic lore, the white stag appears when someone is transgressing
and represents the Otherworld.