Frequently Asked Questions
How can I see the white deer?
Since tours inside the Depot are infrequently scheduled, the best way to look for the deer is where public roads run near the Depot fence. A good place is Route 96A, which runs parallel to the west side of the Depot’s fence and is about 6 miles south of the city of Geneva, NY. The Depot fence starts adjacent to the entrance to the Hillside Children’s Center south for about 3 miles. The best times to see deer are near dawn and sunset.
Are the white deer albinos?
The Seneca white deer are leucistic white-tailed deer, not albinos. This means they lack pigmentation in their hair. They have normal coloration in their eyes and skin, not the pink eyes of albinos. Leucism affects the pigmentation of the hair only, while albinos lack the pigment melanin throughout their bodies. Leucism is caused by a mutation that prevents pigmentation of the hair.
Do the white fawns have spots?
White fawns do have white spots, but they are hard to distinguish against the white hair that covers the rest of the fawns.
How many deer are inside the Depot fence?
About 800 deer live behind the Depot fences. Of those, about 200 are white. The rest are normal brown color. This the largest herd of white, white-tailed deer in the world.
Has there been a census of other animals?
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation performed a helicopter survey of the Depot several years ago to determine the population of the deer.
Can the deer jump the fence?
They can probably jump the fence any time they want, but they have little reason to make the effort.
What other animals are in the Depot?
Beaver, woodchucks, coyotes, and many other common mammals are often seen in the Depot. Large birds include turkey, several types of hawks, ospreys, bald eagles, and a large number of migratory fowl. Smaller passerine songbirds are plentiful, and the Depot has been designated an Important Birding Area by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Audubon Society.
What habitats exist in the Depot?
Habitats on the Depot vary from mature forests in the southern portions to open grassland in the north. A 60-acre pond hosts migratory wildfowl.
Can I hunt in the Depot?
Hunting at the Depot is administered by the Department of the Army and is restricted to military personnel. Seneca White Deer has nothing to do with the annual hunt and should not be contacted.
Why is hunting allowed in the Depot?
Hunting is an effective means of managing the deer population inside the Depot fence. If the number of deer were allowed to increase without controls, the Depot would become overpopulated in a few years and many deer would starve each winter. This occurred in the late 1950s, leading to the current hunting policy.
Are the deer in the Depot fed?
No one provides extra food for the deer in the Depot. The population eats the vegetation growing there. Providing food from outside sources would make the deer dependent on those sources and more vulnerable to starvation if the outside food were not available.
How large is the Depot?
The Depot is 10,587 acres. It is about eight miles long and up to four miles wide.
What facilities remain at the Depot?
About 24 miles of six-foot, chain-link fence with an 18-inch angled extension surround the Depot. It has 140 miles of paved roads and 40 miles of railroad tracks.
There are 519 igloos, or bunkers (officially called “earth-covered magazines), at the Depot which were used to store munitions. The igloos are about 25 feet wide and either 60 or 80 feet long.
19 huge (150 feet x 800 feet) general warehouses remain, as do 8 standard magazines, 2 small arms magazines, a 7200 foot runway and 9 burn pads.
The Q area has several administrative buildings, and even a false building that is really 8 to 10-foot thick concrete slab that covered the storage area for triggers for nuclear weapons.
Are any military materials still on the Depot?
All munitions were removed from the Depot before it was officially closed in July 2000.
Are the igloos still being used?
Most of the igloos are empty, but Finger Lakes Technologies Group rents those in the Q area for secure storage facilities.
What is the Q area?
Q was the highest level of security designated by the Atomic Energy Commission. It was generally used for areas that stored nuclear weapons. The Q area at the Seneca Army Depot had a special triple fence (the middle one of which was electrified at 4,800 volts), special lighting and 24-hour armed patrols.
What is the tall tower near the south end of the Depot?
The 700-foot tower, which looks like a radio antenna, is a LORAN tower. LORAN stands for LOng RAnge Navigation. The tower transmits a low-frequency radio signal that, combined with the signals from other transmitters, provides a world-wide navigation system. It is currently not in operation and the property is for sale.
Are there any businesses on the Depot?
Barracks to the north end of the Depot were renovated and now house the Hillside Children’s Center’s Varick Campus.
The Five Points Correctional Facility, a maximum security state prison, operates in the southern apart of the Depot. The Seneca County Law Enforcement Center is located nearby.
Finger Lakes Technology Group rents Igloos in the northern part of the Depot for secure storage facilities.