March 11 - Key Deer Awareness Day

Posted on March 11, 2020

There are these very small deer that live on some very small islands in Florida. Because the islands are called the Florida Keys, the deer are called key deer. 

Some people say that key deer are just white-tailed deer that don't get very big, and others argue that key deer are an actual sub-species. Whichever is the true case, key deer are generally only half as large as white-tailed deer!

When full grown, they are less than two and a half feet tall, and they weigh less than 75 pounds.

A key deer fawn weighs only 2 to 4 pounds! Ahhh! And their little hooves leave prints in the ground that are the size of a human adult's fingerprint!

Until the 1930s, it was legal to hunt key deer. Even when hunting them became illegal, some people poached (illegally hunted) them - and key deer almost went extinct.

It may be that the population went down as low as 25 to 50 key deer! Yikes!

Nowadays, there are laws that protect the deer, and there are hundreds - maybe as many as 1,000 - key deer living on the islands. That number is still too low - they are considered endangered.

The best place to look for key deer, these days, is the National Key Deer Wildlife Refuge on Big Pine Key. There are also a lot of deer on No Name Key. 

By the way, most deer can swim, and key deer are fairly good swimmers that can swim from island to island. 

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