Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Sanctuary saves rare fawn that its mom tried to kill

CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. — A piebald deer — one with less pigment than usual — is being bottle-fed and nursed by humans at a Michigan deer ranch because its mother would have killed it.

Meet Dragon, the young, curious fawn who lives at Deer Tracks Junction here about 21 miles north of Grand Rapids, Mich.

Less than 1% of white-tails in the wild are born piebald, and even less survive to adulthood.

"It's beautiful, but it's a sign of other problems that they have," said Kelly Powell, owner of Deer Tracks Junction, a farm and animal sanctuary. "A piebald deer is the same as a normal white-tail deer; it's just lacking pigment. Pigment doesn't just affect your skin color, it affects eyesight, hearing, kidney functions."

When you take away a deer's camouflage and its ability to hear and see predators, it has no chance to survive. Dragon's mother rejected him on first sight.

"She had twins; one was born with full pigment and she accepted that one. And Dragon, being piebald, was rejected," Powell said. "We're trying to nurse him back to health and introduce him back to the herd."

Even though she is a piebald herself, Dragon's mother actually tried to kill him.

"If my wife, she wouldn't have been there, it would have been probably all over for him because she was stomping on him," he said.

Dragon is almost living the Rudolph story since he has been shunned because he looks different. At some point, he will grow up and assimilate.

"The social pecking order like that is sort of sad to watch because they are outcasts like that," Powell said.

Dragon will probably be the most popular deer at Deer Tracks Junction for the rest of his life.

"They're just different than the average white-tail you'll ever see," 
he said. "Most people have never seen one in the wild."

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