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Key Deer

Odocoileus virginianus clavium


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


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."


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!

No species ID suggestions


Thank you for your continuing updates on these deer Jim.

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 4 days 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."

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 6 days ago

Congrats Jim, Awesome pics!

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson a week 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 a week ago

Fantastic pics! Congrats, Jim.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway a week ago

Congrats Jim. Love it.

Christine Y.
Christine Y. a week ago

Congratulations Jim. Great spotting and story!

Greg Shchepanek
Greg Shchepanek a week ago

Congratulations Jim on a wonderful SOTW.

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

LarryGraziano a week ago

Congrats on your spotting of the week Jim!

DanielePralong a week 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!"



Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson a week ago

Appreciate it, Leuba!

Leuba Ridgway
Leuba Ridgway a week 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 a week 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 a week ago

Super spotting and info Jim - thanks for sharing this.

DanielePralong a week 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 a week ago

Thanks for the update Jim.

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson a week 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 they probably know how to handle large storms, probably better than people.

DanielePralong a week ago

Thank you so much for posting this Jim. Please keep us updated.

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 2 weeks ago

Thanks, Rob. There are some early reports that deer had been spotted following the storm...

Prior to the storm, there were only about 1,000 deer in the preserve, and it remains to be seen how many are left. The roads to the area are still closed, so it may take some time to assess.

triggsturner 2 weeks ago

Great series Jim. I hope these guys made it through ok. We get sketchy reports here in NZ.

Grab 2 weeks ago

Stay safe guys.

SarahWhitt 2 weeks ago

Beautiful deer...I too, am hoping for the best for all of the wildlife in Florida.

Florida, USA

Lat: 24.68, Long: -81.36

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

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