Extremely rare 'ghostly' white stag spotted in Scotland

An extremely rare ‘ghostly’ white stag has been caught on camera in Scotland.

The stag was spotted in the Cairngorms National Park on Jan.7 by a group of friends hiking as part of a bachelor party. Ironically, a bachelor party in the U.K. is known as a “stag do.”

SWNS reports that the “ghost-like” stag, which is part of the red deer species, is one of just a handful living in Britain.

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The animal was spotted among a herd of red deer. "We were getting into the middle of the wilderness when we spotted the herd," explained Marc Brunelle, who took the photos. "There were about 200 of them -- it was magical."

The location of the white stag sighting is being kept secret to protect the animal from poachers and hunters

The location of the white stag sighting is being kept secret to protect the animal from poachers and hunters (© Marc Brunelle / SWNS.com)

Groom Damien Zoyo first spotted the white stag among the herd, he added.

The precise location of the sighting in the Scottish Highlands is being kept secret to protect the elusive animal from hunters and poachers.

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The white stag’s unusual appearance is likely caused by a condition called leucism that results in loss of pigmentation.

The white stag is one of just a handful in Britain

The white stag is one of just a handful in Britain (© Marc Brunelle / SWNS.com)

A fully mature white stag was known as a “white hart” in old English, and numerous references to the animal can be found in British culture and folklore. The animal, for example, featured on the personal badge of King Richard II, and was said to bring good luck.

In Celtic mythology, the white hart is depicted as an otherworldly messenger, while in Arthurian legend the animal can never be caught and is synonymous with spiritual quest. The white stag is also associated with the myth of Herne the Hunter, a phantom huntsman.

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Legend also links the white hart to Kind David I, a 12th-century king of Scotland.

There are numerous references to the white stag or "white hart" in British folklore

There are numerous references to the white stag or "white hart" in British folklore (© Marc Brunelle / SWNS.com)

To this day, “The White Hart” is a popular pub name in the U.K. and for over 100 years, Premier League Soccer team Tottenham Hotspur played their games at White Hart Lane stadium.

Although rare, there have been other occasional sightings of white stags in Scotland. A white stag was spotted on Scotland’s West Coast in 2012, and one was also photographed in the Scottish Highlands in 2008, according to media reports. Reuters reports that the body of a decapitated white stag was discovered in a remote part of South-West England in 2007.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers