White Deer Tours of the former Seneca Army Depot in Romulus will begin Thursday, November 16, Seneca White Deer President Dennis Money announced today. The world’s largest herd of white, white-tailed deer form the centerpiece of the tours, which will also feature military artifacts from decades as a major weapons storage facility. Reservations for the tours can be made online at senecawhitedeer.org.
The 90-minute, guided bus tours will feature food plots established to restore deer herd and stop at one of the earth-covered storage igloos that once stockpiled weapons of all sizes and descriptions. This is the first time in more than five years the former Depot has been open to the public. Tours will generally be conducted Thursday through Sunday, year round, not just for a limited number of weekends as they have in the past.
The 25-passenger tour buses will leave the John and Josephine Ingle Welcome Center on Route 96A, about 10 miles south of Geneva, NY, and travel through the heart of the storage area which features 519 earth-covered bunkers, more than
100 miles of roads, and remnants of the farms that preceded the Depot.
The central attraction for the tours is the famous white deer herd within the fences of the former Depot. The white deer found there are a natural variation of the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), which usually have brown coloring. The Seneca White Deer are leucistic, meaning they lack all pigmentation in the hair, but have the normal brown-colored eyes. Albino deer, which lack only the pigment melanin, have pink eyes and are extremely rare. The Seneca White Deer interbreed freely with the brown deer in the former Depot and share the habitat equally.
The first white deer, a buck and a fawn, were spotted in the Depot in 1949. After the first white deer siting, protection provided by the U.S. Army resulted in more white deer and the proportion of white deer gradually increased. About one quarter of the deer population now is white. The white deer on the former Depot are recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest herd of white, white-tailed deer.
Reservations for tours can be made online at senecawhitedeer.org. Full details on the tour schedule and pricing are on the Seneca White Deer, Inc. website.
“We’ve been working for years to make this happen, and now we have a year-round program of tours that will interest nature lovers, military history buffs and people who just want to know what is behind those fences,” said Money.
The Seneca Army Depot was built in 1941 by the Army in anticipation of World War II. It was a major weapons storage facility for nearly 60 years and closed in 2000. Ownership of the 10,500 acre facility then passed to the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency, which agreed to sell about 7,000 acres of the property to Earl Martin of Seneca Iron Works in 2016. Martin established Deer Haven Park on about 3,000 acres of his holdings and has contracted with Seneca White Deer, Inc. to conduct tours of the facility for the public.