The Key deer are the smallest of the 28 subspecies of Virginia white-tailed deer. Bucks range from 28 inches to 32 inches at the shoulder and weigh an average of 80 pounds. Does stand 24 to 28 inches at the shoulder and weigh an average of 65 pounds.
Experts think the Key deer migrated from the mainland to the Keys thousands of years ago. They are not found anywhere else in the world.
In 1922, the deer had a range of 60 miles from Duck Key to Key West. They are now isolated to a 6-mile area with most of the population on Big Pine Key.
The Key deer population dropped to less than 50 animals in the 1940s.
Key Deer Rut
The rut is a period, in the Fall, when the biggest and strongest male (stag) rounds up a group of females (hinds) for mating. Of course every other male deer wants to do the same, but there's only so many females to go around.
In order to maintain control over a group of females the stag must constantly drive away rivals. The stag announces his superiority over other males by constantly bellowing. Sometimes shouting is not enough, and when contenders approach the females they need to be chased off. Ocasionally fights between males can break out, and this can lead to some serious clashing of those antlers.
This is also the time when humans are sometimes threatened. If you see an antlered Key Deer run across the road, while you are driving, slow down and watch for the stronger stag who will be chasing the first out of his territory.
Check out the videos below for what one of these battles is like.
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Researchers At Texas A&M Clone a Deer
Scientists at Texas A&M University have produced what they believe is the first cloned deer, the school said Monday.
Even though white-tailed deer are abundant in the wild, Westhusin said in a statement the creation of Dewey could prove helpful in preserving endangered species such as Florida's Key deer. More
Endangered deer are a Keys success
BIG PINE KEY - The tiny deer on this island rummage through garbage cans, graze in back yards and walk up to humans without fear.
Though they once numbered fewer than 50, experts say they now practically overrun Big Pine Key, about 30 miles east of Key West. Some say the population has rebounded so well that the animals should no longer be an endangered species.
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