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Deer petition

A group of Leland residents plans to organize an effort to protect albino deer, similar to the one shown in this DNR photo, even within chronic wasting management zones.

DNR photo

LELAND — Those opposed to the shooting of white deer in a small Sauk County community plan to plead their case to fellow conservationists.

Leland resident Brandon Yanke said he plans to introduce a resolution at the county’s spring fish and wildlife informational hearings that would ban the killing of albino deer within chronic wasting disease management zones.

“Nobody’s really blaming the guy that shot that deer,” Yanke said. “This isn’t a town versus hunters issue. And it is not an anti-hunting ploy to save these deer.”

The genetically defected deer already are protected throughout the rest of the Wisconsin. But hunting rules allow them to be killed in CWD zones because state officials say they are just as likely to contract and spread the disease as any other deer.

Two white deer recently were shot by out-of-town hunters in the small communities of Leland and Plain. And locals say another recently was shot — although the DNR has not confirmed that.

Leland is host to a family of white deer that some hunters had pledged not to shoot. The killing of two of those deer during opening weekend angered some residents, who enjoy watching the deer and tracking their whereabouts, and consider them part of the area’s natural beauty.

Yanke said those that want to protect the albino deer are not against hunting. In fact, he said, many are hunters.

However, Yanke said management zones should not be exclusive in allowing the harvest of albino deer. Although he said it could take years to become a state law, Yanke said he’s confident statewide momentum against special CWD rules means Conservation Congress voters will support his resolution.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources spokesman Bob Manwell said his agency has only confirmed one white deer kill near Leland, because the hunter contacted a DNR warden after he shot it. Friday, Manwell said that warden was calling field wardens to see whether they knew anything about additional white deer harvests.

While the agency understands the importance of the white deer to Leland residents, the DNR can’t invest much time in the matter.

“From our standpoint, it’s a legal harvest in the management zone and frankly our guys are plenty busy,” Manwell said. “There’s enough illegal stuff going on that they need to look into.”

Several Leland residents plan to organize a campaign to support Yanke’s resolution.

Amy Sprecher of Sprecher’s Bar said one resident already has purchased yard signs that say “Save the White Deer,” and a company has donated banners. They even hope to purchase a billboard and start a website, and plan to organize a meeting to discuss the initiative.

“We want to be able to protect them throughout the whole CWD area,” she said.