The smallest and perhaps most susceptible deer species here in North America has once again had its chances for survival challenged. The Florida Key Deer, coming off a miraculous recovery after doing battle against screwworm for the past two years, was once again walloped, this time by a natural disaster named Irma.
As the storm surged through south Florida and the Florida Keys earlier this week, it was anyone’s guess as to how the wildlife in the area would fare. With millions of humans issued strict evacuation orders, the decision was made to leave the small deer to fend for themselves, something FWS Southeast Regional spokesperson Jeffrey Fleming said these deer are used to.
“They are pretty good at protecting themselves. They have been on those Keys going back to the Wisconsin Ice Age, so they know what to do,” he told The Scientist. “We really didn’t have an enormous level of concern.”
Listed as a Federally Endangered Species, with optimistic population estimates pegging numbers in and around the 1,000-animal mark, biologists alike were curious to learn how the small deer fared during the storm.
The first sign of life came when CBC Miami reported David Sutta captured footage of four Key deer moving down the battered roadside in Big Pine Key.
While this footage alone will not suffice as enough evidence, officials from the National Key Deer Refuge are awaiting the green light to return to the area and assess the damage to both the surrounding areas and wildlife populations.
“After we receive information from Monroe County that it is safe to return and we can inhabit the Lower Keys, a post-storm assessment of our facilities and residences will be conducted to determine if we can operate,” Dan Clark superintendent of the National Key Deer Refuge told the Miami Herald.
Feature Image: Flickr |U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region