Florida’s Beloved Key Deer May Be Close To Climate Extinction

"When Hurricane Irma ravaged south Florida in September 2017 it inundated homes, knocked out electricity for millions and killed more than 30 people.

The devastation was not confined to humans, however.

In the Florida Keys, one of the state’s most beloved animals also took a beating: the Key deer, a small subspecies of white-tailed deer that evolved in peaceful isolation on the islands and is now protected under the Endangered Species Act. Irma drowned them, slammed them into buildings and dragged them out to sea. “With Irma, we probably lost about 30% of the deer,” said Nova Silvy, a zoologist who has studied the deer since the 1960s on Big Pine Key, where most of them live.

Though the deer population has largely bounced back, the hurricane’s toll foreshadowed the dangerous future faced by this animal. In the coming century, the impacts of the climate crisis, especially sea level rise, will probably inundate many of the Florida Keys, including the endangered deer’s core habitat on Big Pine Key and neighboring islands."

Jimmy Tobias reports for Type Investigations in collaboration with the Guardian March 1, 2022.

Source: Type Investigations, 03/02/2022