Seneca White Deer
Peering through the lens of his favorite binoculars, Dennis Money adjusts the zoom to get a better look at the bird racing overhead. “I can’t believe it,” exclaims the conservationist. To his delight, the initial assessment has been confirmed – he has spotted a Peregrine Falcon (one of the fastest animals on the planet and an extremely rare find since they are on the list of endangered species in New York). The image immediately sparks something in Dennis, like a proud father watching his child succeed.
Money moved to the area in 1972 from Rome, NY. Following stints as a local science teacher and an instructor for the United States Atomic Energy Commission, Dennis served for almost thirty years as the principal environmental analyst at the Rochester Gas & Electric Company. During that time, Dennis led a historic project – helping RG&E become the state’s first and only approved business entity to “hack” (raise) Peregrine Falcons and release them back into the wild. At the time, the birds had been virtually eradicated from the region due to pesticide poisoning. Aggressive conservation efforts, such as the one Dennis organized, have steadily increased the Peregrine’s numbers.
These days, Dennis keeps a busy schedule tending to his many “projects.” In addition to maintaining over 100 acres of property (filled with woodlands, streams and waterfalls), he is a passionate crusader for causes related to conservation and preservation. Among his most prominent roles, Dennis is the leading advocate for Seneca White Deer, Inc. – an organization dedicated to preserving the unique wildlife and military history of the 10,000-acre former Seneca Army Depot through conservation, tourism and economic development. “I feel an obligation to protect the fragile inhabitants of our local ecosystem,” Dennis said. “Hopefully, my lasting legacy will be that I helped make the world a better place.”
Perhaps the biggest beneficiaries of his efforts have been the region’s captivating and photogenic “White Deer.” Although they are a natural variation of white-tailed deer, these animals are leucistic (meaning they lack all pigmentation in their hair and are rendered completely white in appearance). From the 1940’s until 2000, the white deer were protected within the fenced confines of an active military base. With the Army base’s closure, the facility and its resources have begun to deteriorate – threatening the future viability of this beloved creature.
Steadfast in his mission, Dennis has helped garner international media attention for the Finger Lakes Region and its white deer population. The organization has coordinated several tours of the depot facility to raise awareness for the plight of the deer – providing memorable experiences for numerous visitors to the area. They have also raised considerable money to help ensure the future viability of the white deer and its habitat.
Dennis Money is a man of conviction, determination and action. His inspirational efforts to help preserve and protect the region’s natural assets are born from a genuine love of the area and all things in it. Without question, he has already contributed to a lasting legacy that will benefit visitors and residents alike for generations to come.