Unusually woolly buck spotted by nature camera perplexes Estonian zoologists
RMK's nature camera which is providing real time coverage of a deer feeding site on Saaremaa island, has recorded several visits by a young buck who differs from his mates for its unusually furry and dark coat, leaving the zoologists at a loss in identifying its species.
Zoologist and nature photographer Tiit Hunt said they need more information to determine the exact species of the unusual-looking animal. "The longer and darker fur of the buck is indicative of a Sika deer, but its profile, at least in first inspection, is that of a red deer, while the darker area around its tail is characteristic of neither of the two species found in Estonia," he explained.
Only red deer (the population was introduced to the island in 1965) had ever been seen in Saaremaa until last year. In November, a group of hunters discovered to their surprise that an animal they had shot for a red deer, turned out to be a Sika deer instead. "The Sika deer bucks don't have light spots in wintertime and so it's hard to tell the two species apart, especially when one's convinced that the Sika deer do not occur in Saaremaa," Hunt said.
He speculates that the odd-looking animal could either be a Sika and red deer hybrid, or simply suffer from some sort of genetic mutation.
You can watch the deer camera live here.