The Key Deer: A Miniaturized but Not Weaponized Morsel of Cute; 09 July 2011

Odocoileus virginianus clavium, the Key deer;
Monroe county, Florida (09 July 2011).

Since I’m in a Keysian state of mind, let’s skip back a few years, shall we? Featured here are a number of Key deer, Odocoileus virginianus clavium,  a miniaturized (but not weaponized) subspecies of the white-tailed deer. This tiny deer, carrying an average weight of only 45 to 75 pounds or so, scratches out a living in the Florida Keys, feeding primarily on red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle). They’re most focused in the Big Pine Key area, much of which is designated the National Key Deer Refuge.

A federally protected subspecies, there aren’t heaps and heaps of Key deer remaining. I’m not sure what the official estimate is today, but it’s probably still between 700 and 800. That being said, we damn near lost the subspecies altogether in the 1950s, and, all things considered, they’re made a fairly impressive recovery. It’s not uncommon to find them lounging about along the mangrove shorelines and neighborhoods of the Big Pine Key area — where they frequently encounter humans. As you might gather from these photographs, they’re also fairly comfortable around humans.

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