Scientific name: Odocoileus virginianus clavium
Where it lives: South Florida (Big Pine Key and surrounding lower-key islands)
Native to the Florida Keys, Key deer are found no other place in the world except for a few small islands known as “keys” located at the southern base of the Florida state peninsula.
The deer are a sub-species of the North American white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and are the smallest deer on the continent. Adults are similar in size to a large dog, ranging in weight from 65-90 pounds and the fawns, or young Key deer, are about the size of a small house cat.
Key deer are endangered because their habitat is endangered. They face many challenges for their survival, but the greatest threat to their life presently is the possible loss of their protective, endangered status from the federal government under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
State and federal leaders still have a chance to prevent the de-listing of the Key deer by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), but people of all ages must actively unite and share their voices to protect the deer.
The Key deer are being assessed for “de-listing” — meaning removed from the endangered species list — due to their population recovery.
De-listing removes a species entirely from all federal protections. The people’s voices are more important than ever.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is an agency of the U.S. government within the Department of the Interior dedicated to the management of fish, wildlife, and natural habitats — for the benefit of the American people.
USFWS works in partnership with many different organizations, private and non-private, landowners, states, tribes and other countries. They are our representatives; they are the ones to hear our voices and bring them to the Department of the Interior to make changes to the law, or support what is already in place.
We, must be more vigilant than ever to protect our natural world and the animals that inhabit it. We can do this by educating ourselves and others.