Camels are now considered a sister group of Artiofabula. The pronghorn is the only extant antilocaprid. The four summarized Cetartiodactyla taxa are divided into ten extant families:
They are unique to the lower Florida Keys, but sadly, their numbers are endangered. Their population is estimated to be close to a thousand now, and although that is a dramatic increase from a low of about 50 prior to the establishment of the Refuge and listing of the deer as endangered inthey still face many perils.
Although conditioned to live in the wild, they have had to co-exist with man as their natural habitat gradually shrank. When you see them, first thing you notice is how unafraid they are, some even come to you looking for food.
This is likely the result of having previously been fed, which is of course illegal and it endangers them by further encouraging them to approach people and vehicles looking for handouts. Florida Key Deer are tiny, how tiny?
Look at the size of this young buck when compared to the truck next to it: Females are even smaller, you might even mistake them for a large doggie.
They measure about 24 to 28 inches at the shoulder and weigh an average of 65 pounds.
The larger males average about 80 pounds and fully grown can measure from 28 to 32 inches tall. What do they eat?
Key deer are herbivores, they feed on over different species of native plants. Their diet typically includes the local mangroves all three types found in Florida and thatch palm berries.
You often see them in yards as well helping themselves to a variety of flowers and grasses.
Where do Key Deer live? We find a range of habitats within these islands such as hardwood hammocks, pine rocklands, mangroves and wetlands. Of course, there is extensive development in the islands and the deer have learned to co-exist alongside.
How long do they live? Males can live 9 years or so, females slightly less at 7 years. Behavior Through the Seasons Key deer breeding season occurs from the fall to early winter. Bucks start preparing by sharpening their antlers on trees and shrubs.
The highest mating takes place in October.
The gestation period lasts days, nearly 7 months, which means spring to early summer start welcoming the cute white-spotted fawns.
Bucks lose their antlers in February and March and start growing new ones right away. The antlers are covered with a velvet like coating. Towards the end of summer they have lost their velvet in preparation for the mating season. This is not a fenced-in park where Key Deer can be seen as a sure thing.
Like all National Refuges, their aim is to protect and preserve the Key deer as well as other wildlife of the area, to maintain and enhance natural diversity and habitats, to educate as well as to enforce the rules that protect wildlife on all Refuge lands.
At first sight, this is not a "regular" visitor center like the ones we find at other National Parks, it is more or less hidden in a strip mall, look for the Winn Dixiebut as other visitor centers, it is quite informative and you can get a map and directions to some of the popular areas for visitors: Key deer are seen mainly early in the morning or late afternoon when the sun is setting and before dark.
During the day the deer are hiding in the shade resting, they come out to feed when it cools off and this is when you see them roaming on the side of the road It is wonderful to see these adorable creatures in the wild.
You will find them roaming all around the area, within the lands administered by the Refuge as well as private lands. We found them right by the side of the road, resting, feeding, playing Collisions with vehicles is the leading cause of death of the Florida Key Deer. According to the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission, road kills account for 70 percent of the annual mortality of Key deer.
When approaching the Big Pine Key area slow down! Do not feed them! Besides being illegal, feeding the deer entices them to approach people and vehicles further endangering them.
Volunteer at National Key Deer Refuge. Visitor Center at Key Deer Blvd.The endangered Florida Key deer, the smallest subspecies of white-tailed deer in the United States, is endemic to the Florida Keys on the southern end of peninsular Florida (Hardin et al.
). Key deer occupy 20–25 islands within the boundaries of the National Key Deer Refuge (NKDR), with approximately 75% of the overall Key deer population. If the status of the Key deer is still precarious today, at least it is far more secure than during the s when only an estimated 50 animals remained.
Hunting and some habitat destruction had eliminated the . Two-thirds of the key deer population inhabits Big Pine Key and No Name Key. The remaining deer reside in the following keys: Lower Keys: Big Pine, Big Torch, Cudjoe, Howe, Little Pine, Little Torch, Middle Torch, Sugarloaf, and Summerland.
Keys located further south lack a permanent supply of freshwater required by key deer for survival. The deer play musical chairs between a number of islands in the lower Keys, but they chiefly live on Big Pine Key and No Name Key—both of which, on average, lie only about three feet above sea level.
A consolidation question will be decided next week by members of LyonCoffey Electric Cooperative and Radiant Electric Cooperative. If the special question passes, plans are to consolidate the two electric cooperatives to form 4 Rivers Electric Cooperative, effective Jan.
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