While Connecticut residents have been spotting deer for years -- sometimes, with their headlights -- Joseph Novella glimpsed one of the most unusual in the state.

"I didn't even know it was a deer, it was a shocking sight," said Novella, a Danbury resident.

It was an albino doe, stark white and nursing two fawns. Novella saw the deer Monday while driving in northeastern corner of Westport, and pulled into a driveway to get a better look.

Albinism, a rare genetically inherited trait, is uncommon in all animals and makes them easy targets for prey. Howard Kilpatrick, a deer program biologist for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said three kinds of deer can be seen in the state but an albino is most uncommon.

"We get reports of normal looking deer and piebald deer every year," Kilpatrick said. "But albino, we get one sighting only every two or three years."

Kilpatrick said the spike in population for all deer happens in June, when fawns are born and while residents worry about striking a deer with their cars or protecting their gardens, the deer population in the state is down.