BILLINGS - Exotic wildlife is a part of the expectations for tourists who visit Montana, but it's typically not seen in larger cities like Billings. That wasn't the case for one Billings resident, who was able to capture some once-in-a-lifetime photographs just on the city's west end.
For Greg Roset, taking pictures of wildlife is a hobby. The former employee of the Stillwater Mine is retired now and spends his time photographing the beautiful scenery of Montana.
“I just like to pull over and take a picture from the road. I think that’s the wonderful thing about Montana, you don’t have to go on hikes into deep wilderness areas to see wildlife,” Roset said.
Roset recently hit the jackpot when he found an albino deer on the Billings West End, and the pictures are astonishing.
“I’ve never seen another albino of anything in the wild, so it’s pretty rare to see. It’s pretty exciting to see one in such closer proximity,” said Roset.
To put it in perspective just how rare this sighting was, Chrissy Webb from Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks tried to put it in a numeric value.
"Some research says it's as common as one in every 10,000. Some research says it's as common as one in every 100,000. So, there is a pretty wide range," Webb said.
Webb says that there are several reasons that make albino animals so rare, but perhaps the biggest is their struggle to survive.
"The condition comes with a lot of physical disabilities as well," Webb said. "If they're albino, they can be more susceptible to predation because they stick out so much on the landscape."
According to Webb, similar sightings have been reported in the Billings area. While it may not be the exact same animal, Webb says that it is clear that albino deer are making themselves right at home within city limits.
"We have gotten pretty regular reports of sighting albino deer over there dating back as far as 20 years ago seeing those albino deer," Webb said.
Roset credits his pictures to being attentive to his surroundings, and maybe a little bit of luck.
“Well we were coming home from our grandson’s football game and we happened to see what we thought was a white garbage sack on the field, but then the ear moved. It’s amazing how many cars drive by that area. There must’ve been 40 or 50 cars that went by and probably didn’t even know what I was doing out there,” Roset said.