Jan 272017

A Key deer scampers away after being fitted with a radio collar. Photo by Christine Ogura.

NATIONAL KEY DEER REFUGE, Fla. — Thirty adult female Key deer are now able to “pop” their collars…radio collars, that is.

Over a three-day period that started Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, specially-trained Key deer researchers from Texas A&M University and veterinarians and biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service captured and placed electronic tracking collars on Key deer at Big Pine and No Name Keys. These are small, lightweight flexible vinyl collars, specially made for Key deer.

These collars allow the Service to more easily find, and in turn, closely monitor these Key deer does now, and more importantly, during the upcoming fawning season for possible screwworm infestation. Fawning season, which usually starts in March or April each year, will be a critical timeframe because of how these parasites lay eggs in open wounds, which hatch and become flesh eating maggots. Does and fawns are particularly vulnerable during the birthing process.

Using radio telemetry gear, Service biologists are checking on these collared does several times weekly. When fawning season begins, Service biologists will increase observations to a daily schedule.

The deer that have received advanced veterinary care have a number shaved onto their sides for relocation and monitoring. The Service has been visually monitoring these deer as they are observed, and will continue to do so through the next few months as a sort of welfare check.

While the interagency, joint unified command has made significant strides toward eliminating fertile screwworm flies from the environment, complete eradication is forthcoming. On January 13, two Key deer from Big and Little Munson Islands respectively were confirmed to have been infested with screwworm by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory. One of these was found deceased and the other was euthanized on January 7 for its own welfare.

“We’ve got to be especially vigilant with fawning season coming,” said Dan Clark, Refuge Manager, Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Complex. “Should fertile screwworm flies be detected or an infested animal confirmed, Key deer does and fawns will be at higher risk. If it happens, we’ll be prepared to move swiftly with preventative treatments and/or other contingency operations already planned and established to protect the subspecies.”

The radio collars will also provide data to improve the Service’s ability to estimate the population and identify changes in population numbers during the incident.

The presence of New World screwworm was confirmed here on Sept. 30, 2016. Since then, the Service has worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Monroe County, Fla. and others to eradicate this parasite and protect the endangered Key deer and other wildlife from infestation.


The National Wildlife Refuge System protects wildlife and wildlife habitat on more than 150 million acres of land and water from the Caribbean to the Pacific, Maine to Alaska. Refuges also improve human health, provide outdoor recreation, and support local economies. Visit our home page at http://www.fws.gov/refuges/.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/.

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 January 27, 2017  Posted by at 12:48 am Issue #203, News, Public Notice  Add comments

  6 Responses to “Thirty Female Deer at National Key Deer Refuge Fitted with Radio Collars that Will Help Track Them as Refuge Gears Up for Fawning Season”

  1. They’re finally doing some serious work on Key deer for a change, most likely thanks to the involvement of TAMU given that everyone at the refuge seems to be relatively new and inexperienced. It’s about time! TAMU is the BEST!

  2. Yes , spending money. Am still waiting to hear of what value the key deer have ? I asked this a few weeks ago and received no reply. How did they ever get there ? Do they have a purpose that I am missing ? If they all die will anything change ?

    • They’re purpose is more pure than that of people on this earth. They merely want to survive; people want to make themselves feel better, so they destroy anything and everything to accomplish that. Animals never polluted the environment; people have and still do. The world could use less people for they are useless.

      • Survival is normal desire to all animals and am sure they likely desire but reality tax payers pick up the bill. Now lets not over look the danger they are if they cross the road and cause a wreck that kills people. Yes the speed limit is lower but will not likely keep a car from hitting them. Have never seen any cross the road in 43 years and hundreds of trips. Not even when we lived in KW and went often to get food in big pine key. Actually only seen a few. Do understand your thinking but nature has handled it for thousands of years. We have few panthers in the everglades and no problems because of them slowly getting killed.

  3. http://www.floridakeys.com/lowerkeys/keydeer.htm

    does offer explanation of a sort of how they there.

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