BILLINGS — After calling Billings home for at least the last 10 years, a well-known albino deer was found dead Sunday.
Albino deer are relatively rare in the wild, but according to Chrissy Webb with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, albino deers have been observed within Billings City limits for about 20 years.
Many were heartbroken to see a post appear on social media Sunday stating the body of the doe had been found in a ravine with her head removed. Thinking it may have been killed by humans, people shared their anger and hoped it wasn’t true.
“It sounded like it was sort of becoming a mascot of the neighborhood, so I understand people’s connection to it,” said Webb.
A game warden went out to investigate the death.
“As far as our warden investigated, there weren’t any signs of foul play or illegal activity,” Webb said.
She said the doe likely died of natural causes and old age. A usual lifespan for a deer is five to seven years, but by looking at the albino deer's teeth, which were found in the head about 100 yards away, it appeared to have doubled the expected lifespan.
“It was estimated to be over 10 years old,” said Webb. "I do think this specific deer was probably a little bit protected, because it lived really close to the urban center of Billings.”