Endangered Species

The endangered Key deer herd was already coming out of a tough year — the herd lost more than 100 animals to New World screwworm.

So when the eye of Hurricane Irma crossed the Lower Keys as a Category 4 storm, wildlife managers were worried. The Lower Keys is also the only place on the planet where Key deer live.

But recently completed population surveys came up with good news, said Dan Clark, manager of the four national wildlife refuges in the Keys, including Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge.

Federal wildlife managers in the Florida Keys have a message for residents: Please stop feeding the endangered deer.

Since Irma washed over Cudjoe Key Sept. 10, pushing a storm surge that submerged much of the Lower Keys including the National Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine, residents who have long tended to the deer like beloved pets began putting out water and food, fearful that saltwater contaminated foraging grounds.

There’s a darker side to a rebounding Florida Panther population with state game officials reporting a spike in attacks on livestock and domestic animals in rural Southwest Florida.

Animal rights and environmental groups are urging members to flood the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with pleas not to alter the Florida Panther’s “endangered” status.

Photo: Everglades National Park via Flickr

The Florida panther's status as endangered is up for review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The iconic big cat has been on the list of federally-protected endangered species since it was first drawn up in 1967. The federal agency wants to hear from stakeholders in South Florida about what, if any, protections the panther should have in the future. 

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