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Key Deer

Odocoileus virginianus clavium

Description:

This is the smallest species of the white-tailed deer. Adults are 24 - 28" at the shoulder...as pictured.

Habitat:

This species is confined mostly to Big Pine Key in a refuge. Due to development, their habitat has declined in size considerably. Per Wikipedia, "This species feeds on over 150 types of plants, but mangroves (red, white, and black) and thatch palm berries make up the most important part of their diets."

Notes:

I am posting this now as I have been watching the movement of Hurricane Irma. At the time of this posting, the eye of the storm is over Big Pine Key and the refuge. This deer is an endangered species, and they are living in a low-lying area in the keys (1 to 3 feet above sea level) that will be hit hard by a storm surge of 10 to 15 feet. Pine rockland habitat (found in Big Pine Key) is important, as well. Per Wikipedia...(pine rockland habitat) "is often the only reliable source of fresh drinking water (Key deer can tolerate drinking only mildly brackish water)." The water will be more than brackish from the storm. There is no where for them to go. Hoping the best, and fearing the worst!

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30 Comments (1–25)

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson a month ago

Thanks guys...looks like the deer will be OK.

Thanks for the update Jim.

LarryGraziano
LarryGraziano a month ago

Great update.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway a month ago

Great stuff Jim

DanielePralong
DanielePralong a month ago

Thanks for your continuing updates on the situation with these deer Jim!

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson a month ago

Yesterday, October 11th, an article ran in the Miami Herald which is promising as to the survival of the Key Deer...

"Since the storm, 26 deer deaths have been confirmed. Of those, biologists blamed 21 directly on the storm but have not determined the cause for the other five." As well, the article states..."Big Pine and the surrounding islands provide the last habitat for the planet’s last herd of the dog-sized deer, which now number about between 700 and 1,000."

All things considered, the deer have weathered the storm fairly well. Recent rains have replenished fresh water sources, and vegetation on the key is recovering. Nature is resilient, and for their size these little deer are as tough as they come!


DanielePralong
DanielePralong a month ago

Thank you for your continuing updates on these deer Jim.

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson a month ago

There was recent news from several online sources that in a recent video posting on the Monroe County Commission’s Facebook page, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue Lt. Nicholas Johnson reported that a rescue crew came across a thirsty deer in the Keys. They offered bottles of water, and the deer drank 4 bottles.

In my Notes posting above, I mentioned fresh water being contaminated by the Irma hurricane surge, which could endanger the deer. in an online article on "Enjoy the Silence"..."Hurricane Irma’s storm surge increased the salinity levels in much of the fresh water around the Florida Keys. Officials are growing concerned the salty water could impact the endangered Key deer along with birds, rabbits, butterflies and other species. As a result, wildlife experts are now asking for the publics help to provide fresh water."

https://enjoythesilence.today/2017/09/21...

The deer survivors are facing a continuing threat that over time may be as devastating as the storm itself. Fresh water is a scarce commodity in the Keys, and and first responder and resident needs will be considered before water is offered to wildlife.

RickBohler
RickBohler a month ago

Congrats Jim, Awesome pics!

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 2 months ago

Thanks Daniele, and all who commented! These deer are tenacious! It will take some time to determine the impact of the storm to their population...but they are still with us.

Congrats Jim. Good to hear they are still doing well. Resilient sub-species.

Felix Fleck
Felix Fleck 2 months ago

Fantastic pics! Congrats, Jim.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 2 months ago

Congrats Jim. Love it.

Christine Y.
Christine Y. 2 months ago

Congratulations Jim. Great spotting and story!

Greg Shchepanek
Greg Shchepanek 2 months ago

Congratulations Jim on a wonderful SOTW.

Congratulations on the SOTW, Jim Nelson, any news on this fantastic creatures...Do they all survived?

LarryGraziano
LarryGraziano 2 months ago

Congrats on your spotting of the week Jim!

DanielePralong
DanielePralong 2 months ago

Congratulations Jim, this excellent series has been voted Spotting of the Week:

"This Key Deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium), an endangered subspecies of white-tailed deer that lives only in the Florida Keys (USA), is our Spotting of the Week! Project Noah member Jim Nelson posted these pictures just as these deer were being threatened by Hurricane Irma. Their survival situation is being monitored, and Jim has just reported back that preliminary reports suggest they did quite well during the storm. Project Noah rangers chose this spotting as it provided a good set of pictures with detailed information and a follow-up on these animals' critical situation. Bravo Jim!"

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/projectnoah/pho...

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/projectnoah/status/9...

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 2 months ago

Appreciate it, Leuba!

Leuba Ridgway
Leuba Ridgway 2 months ago

Great spotting and so good to hear some good news about animals after storms - especially when they have every other thing to contend with. Thanks Jim.

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 2 months ago

Thanks to Noah Rangers for the nomination, and Mark for the comment! Things are looking better for the deer...the Florida Weekly Key West Edition stated on 09/14..."These little fellas did really well during Irma. The fences that line US 1 into Big Pine Key are down so they are all over the road in packs. Just like after Hurricane Georges, they survived quite well. They are resilient little bastards and embody the spirit of Conch Republic residents. Drive carefully through Big Pine, they are everywhere!” – Rick Bravo, a Miami-Dade policeman working as a first responder in the Keys."

Now the biggest threat to the deer, as it has been for years, is vehicular. Bravo for the deer!

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 2 months ago

Super spotting and info Jim - thanks for sharing this.

DanielePralong
DanielePralong 2 months ago

Your spotting has been nominated for the Spotting of the Week. The winner will be chosen by the Project Noah Rangers based on a combination of factors including: uniqueness of the shot, status of the organism (for example, rare or endangered), quality of the information provided in the habitat and description sections. There is a subjective element, of course; the spotting with the highest number of Ranger votes is chosen. Congratulations on being nominated Jim!

DanielePralong
DanielePralong 2 months ago

Thanks for the update Jim.

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 2 months ago

Thanks, Daniele. US Fish & Wildlife is checking the survival situation, but it may take some time. It was pointed out that these deer have survived in the Keys since the ice age...so they probably know how to handle large storms, probably better than people.

Florida, USA

Lat: 24.68, Long: -81.36

Spotted on Dec 16, 2016
Submitted on Sep 10, 2017

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