The out-of-town hunters who shot white deer in two small Sauk County communities during opening weekend were within their rights, according to state hunting regulations.
But that doesn't matter to the people of Leland and Plain who have watched the genetically defected animals grow up and consider them part of the area's natural beauty. To them, the hunters ignored an informal alliance.
"They've been hunting here for years and coming into our bar. They know how we feel," said Amy Sprecher, owner of Sprecher's Bar in Leland, about the Fond du Lac hunters who left town Saturday after one of them shot a white deer outside Leland.
She has observed the deer, taken their photos and even named some of them since she returned to her hometown 10 years ago. And she's not the only one.
The man she bought her home from watched and photographed the deer for years. Sprecher and her neighbors recently held a "White Deer Party" to share stories and photographs.
Hunters are restricted from shooting albino deer throughout most of Wisconsin. However, the restriction does not apply in the state's chronic wasting disease management zones, which include Leland and Plain.
Also, the state Department of Natural Resources does not consider a white deer to be albino if it has any dark spots or does not have a pink nose and eyes. The deer shot near Leland has a brown spot on its rear and does not have pink facial features.
DNR Law Enforcement Bureau Assistant Chief Karl Brooks said regulations allow the killing of albino deer in CWD zones because they are just as likely to contract and spread the disease as any other deer. They have been protected throughout the rest of the state for more than 72 years.
"It's a social issue," Brooks said. "People like to see them. By nature they're a genetic defect."
One white deer was killed a half mile outside Leland near the intersection of Highways PF and C. The other was shot just outside the village of Plain on Ohio Road.
"I'd like to see them bring the white deer back here so we can enjoy it," said Eileen Muchow, who lives northeast of Plain. "But it would never happen."
Sprecher said she would like to see the state outlaw the killing of white and albino deer even in CWD management zones. She plans to give the hunters who killed white deer this weekend "a piece of her mind" if they return to her tavern.