Vermont hunters find albino moose

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October 22, 2010, 6:12 pm

(NECN: Anya Huneke) - Vermont's six-day moose hunting season just ended yesterday, but not without a big and rare score for one hunter: an albino moose, rarely seen, and never known to be harvested before in the state.

Tom Jones is just back from a week-long adventure in Waitsfield, Vermont. He and his friend, Dan, were moose hunting. Little did they know they'd get a moose on opening night of the six day season.

"It's not easy to harvest a moose," said Jones. 

Now, consider how difficult it must be to harvest an albino moose... Jones didn't.

"I've seen an albino deer," he said. "But never an albino moose."

Mark Scott, director of Wldlife at the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, says albino moose are extremely rare. He guesses there are only a couple in Vermont.

"Some scientists say probably in the whole moose population, probably 1 in 100,000 is a true albino," said Scott. "This animal appeared to be a true albino -- it had pink eyes, feet, and no color at all."

The hunters behind this kill don't want to be identified, but the moose they harvested, estimated to be about 2 1/2 years old, is getting a lot of attention nonetheless.

Albino moose are rare for good reason: being all white puts them at a disadvantage. They can't blend in as well to their environment, they're re more easily targeted by predators, and are not as well-equipped to weather cold winters.

"It's not a genetic trait you want to see passed on in wildlife populations," said Scott. "It does not help their chances of survival in the wild."

Still, Scott says, these animals are just like their darker counterparts under the skin, which Tom Jones says is the best part.

Tags: vermont, Anya Huneke, hunting, hunters, albino moose
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