Piebald deer has Barrington residents seeing spots

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A spotted deer was, well, spotted bounding across Lincoln Avenue on Friday morning. While deer sightings in Barrington aren’t unique, the coloration on this piebald deer is.

“It’s not terribly rare, but it’s not common,” said Brian Tefft, principal wildlife biologist for the RI Department of Environmental Management. In RI, he said that “one or two are taken (by hunters) each year.”

The piebald is a genetic abnormality that affects the pigmentation in deer and other mammals. While others of its species have the traditional brown fur, the piebald is born with light fur, speckled with brown.

“The natural coloration gets out of whack,” Mr. Tefft said.

Other than the color, said Mr. Tefft, the animal has all the same characteristics of the rest of the herd. The trait is typically passed to the offspring, he said. If a piebald deer dies before it breeds, the trait will be removed from the line.

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