Key Deer Information

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Photo credit: USFWS

To report a sick, injured or dead Key deer, please call the FWC Hotline at: 888-404-FWCC (3922), option 1 for Monroe County, Florida Keys.

Welcome to the Key Deer Information Page!  Click on one of the topics below to get more information:

Learn About Key Deer Report Injured or Dead Deer
Key Deer FAQ's     History of Jack Watson 
Drive the Speed Limit!     Hurricane Irma Impacts
What Can You Do To Help? Key Deer Habitat 
Prescribed Fire Helps Key DeerResearch Highlights
BPK Habitat Conservation PlanVideos and Photos
New World Screwworm Info  Other Links

  • Learn About the Key Deer

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    The endangered Key deer is the smallest subspecies of the North American white-tailed deer. Poaching and habitat loss had reduced the number of Key deer to only a few dozen animals by the 1950’s, but establishment of the Refuge and subsequent listing of the deer as endangered in 1967 has allowed for protection and a dramatic recovery of the species.

    Click here to learn more about the life history and status of the Key deer.

  • Reporting Sick, Injured or Dead Key Deer

    Deer Response

    To report a sick, injured or dead Key deer, please call FWC Dispatch Hotline at 305-470-6863.  For more info on what to expect during a Key deer call response, check out Key Deer Hotline - What Should I Expect? 

  • Key Deer FAQ's

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    Wondering about Key deer, their habitat, what the Refuge does, or what you can do to help?  Read the Frequently Asked Questions to find out more.

  • History of Jack Watson and the Key Deer

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    If only Jack Watson, the first Refuge Manager of the National Key Deer Refuge, could be here today to see the fruits of his labor - a Key Deer Success Story.  Check out the History of Jack Watson and learn how he saved the Key deer from extinction.

  • Drive the Speed Limit!

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    Each year, we lose 5-15% of the Key deer population to motor vehicle collisions.  The reduction of speed limits on Highway 1 and the installation of fencing and underpass corridors has decreased mortalities in some areas of Big Pine Key, but the mortality rate is still high. 


    Help the Key Deer - Drive slowly and watch out for key deer crossing the road during the morning and evening hours.


     Key deer - vehicle collision info:     

     So far in 2017, 97 Key deer have been hit by cars (updated 9 Nov 2017)  

     2016: 109 vehicle-related mortalities  

     2015: 75 vehicle-related mortalities    

     2014: 121 vehicle-related mortalities    



  • Hurricane Irma


    Post-Irma population estimates are in, and the key deer population is stable!  Key deer have yet again demonstrated their resilience through a major storm.  For more info, check out the Post-Irma Key Deer Population Status Report.  To learn more about other Hurricane Irma impacts to the Florida Keys Refuges, check out Hurricane Irma Impacts and Recovery Updates.

  • What Can You Do To Help?

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    Want to help?  Here are three things that you can do to benefit Key deer:

    1) SLOW DOWN AND ENJOY THE VIEW.  Drive slowly in the Key deer range - starting at Long Beach/Big Pine Key and continuing down to Sugarloaf Keys.  Obey the speed limits and watch out for crossing deer, especially at dawn and dusk.

    2) SECURE YOUR HOUSEHOLD WASTE. Keep your trash, recycling and yard waste bins secured when they are out on the street and when they are in storage on your property.  If you are located within the Key deer range in the Lower Keys, National Key Deer Refuge can provide you with a trash can corral to help with this - call the Refuge Visitor Center (305-872-0774) to request a corral.  Keeping Key deer out of the trash will keep them safe.

    3) KEEP WILDLIFE WILD. Don't feed the Key deer, and educate others to do the same.  Key deer have learned to associate humans with food and water.  This relationship attracts them closer to roads, which makes them more susceptible to getting hit by cars.  In fact, we lose 5-15% of the entire Key deer population to vehicle collisions each year.  


    For more information, read our Keep Wildlife Wild brochure. 


  • Key Deer Habitat

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    Key deer can be found in most habitats in the Lower Florida Keys, including pine rocklands, tropical hardwood hammocks, freshwater wetlands, salt marshes, mangrove forests and beach berms.  This unique subspecies of the white-tailed deer eats over 150 trees, shrubs and flowering plants, gaining both nutrients and moisture from the leaves, fruits, berries and flowers.  Pine rocklands are of the most imperiled ecosystems in the world, having experienced a loss of 98% of the forests to development, sea level rise, and fire suppression over the last 30-40 years.  Pine rocklands provide freshwater to wildlife through solution holes and wetlands.  To learn more about pine rocklands, check out our Pine Rockland Habitat page. 

  • Using Prescribed Fire to Help Key Deer

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    The core habitat that Key deer depend on for food, shelter, and water is a fire-dependent ecosystem.  Learn how the Refuge is managing habitat for Key deer and other wildlife species as part of our Fire Management Program. 

  • Scientific Research on Key Deer

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    Over 60 years of scientific research has been conducted on the Key deer population, answering questions on topics such as breeding, survival, movement, disease, diet, genetic diversity, and vulnerabilities to climate change. To find a selection of highlighted research with links to publications and reports, check out our Key Deer Research Highlights.

  • Big Pine Key Habitat Conservation Plan

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    The Big Pine Key Habitat Conservation Plan was developed in coordination with Monroe County, Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Department of Community Affairs and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to address impacts to covered species resulting from potential development activities of a 20-year period on Big Pine Key and No Name Key, Monroe County, FL.  Click here for the 2006 Habitat Conservation Plan for Florida Key Deer and other Protected Species on Big Pine Key and No Name Key, Monroe County, Florida.  Below are links to the annual summary reports submitted by National Key Deer Refuge to Monroe County from 2010 to the present.

    Are you a resident of Big Pine Key or No Name Key with a question about installing fencing?  Click here to read a letter from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Ecological Services Office to Monroe County with guidance on fencing in accordance with the Habitat Conservation Plan.

    Annual Habitat Conservation Plan Summary Reports (2010 - present):











  • Videos and Photos

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    Check out our Key Deer Multimedia Gallery, with photos and videos capturing the beauty of this amazing species and the habitats that it depends on.

  • Screwworm - What Was That About?

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    The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the presence of New World screwworm in Key deer from National Key Deer Refuge in Big Pine Key, Florida. USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, confirms this is a local infestation of New World screwworm. This is the first infestation in the United States in more than 30 years. In response to this infestation, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam declared an agricultural state of emergency in Monroe County, Florida. For more information on New World Screwworm, visit our Screwworm-Key Deer Information page.

  • Other Links

    Lessons of Whitetail Conservation: The Key Deer (Quality Whitetails, February 2008)

    Domestication Threatens Key Deer (University of Washington, July 2008)

    Climate Change and Florida's Wildlife (Defenders of Wildlife, unknown date)