Piebald moose on Newfoundland's west coast not albino

A large, mainly-white moose spotted recently on Newfoundland's west coast, has garnered the interest of photo buffs and the provincial wildlife department. 

Wayne Barney, a species management coordinator with the Newfoundland and Labrador wildlife division, told the St. John's Morning Show Thursday that the male moose is not albino as many think.

The animal has been seen most often near Stephenville, and in the Port au Port area.

"It's what we refer to as a piebald moose, which is more than a spotty pigmentation as compared to albino, which would be completely white," Barney said.

"It's obvious that there's a genetic influence on the moose population that's localized in that area, that's producing these types of reflections in the offspring, as compared to the greater part of Newfoundland where the likelihood of an encounter of those types of genes would be a lot lower."

You won't be able to get this moose b'y 

Barney said albino moose are rare, with one in 100,000 being a common example.

"It's almost impossible to verify what the true odds of those genetic factors coming together to produce an albino animal. Two albino parents can produce an albino offspring, but most of the times it's associated with a recessive gene, meaning that the two parents will not have any expression of albinism at all," he said.

'It's what we refer to as a piebald moose, which is more than a spotty pigmentation as compared to albino, which would be completely white.' - Wayne Barney

"There are lots of animals that are white out there, The weasel will go from brown in the summertime to white in the wintertime; ptarmigan will often do it. These are not the same genetic drivers that are driving albinism."

Barney said, in case anyone thinks the west coast moose will be fair game during hunting season, they're out of luck.

"In this area, in Moose Management Area 43, which we refer locally as the Port au Port Peninsula, we do have legislation that prohibits the taking of a moose that is predominantly white in colour. That covers the piebald or any albino animal as well," Barney said.

CBC NEWS

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