|Big Pine in the Florida Keys is known for its Key Deer. If you are driving through the keys, you can not help noticing that you are approaching the National Key Deer Refuge because the speed limit changes from 45 MPH to 30 MPH at night. This speed limit is strictly enforced by law enforcement. This area is from Mile Marker 29 to Mile Marker 33.
In the Winn Dixie Plaza in Big Pine, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service operates an information center on the Key Deer and its habitat. (Directions: Go north on Key Deer Blvd. or Wilder Road. The information center is located across from the Winn Dixie in part of the strip center.)
|The shoulder height of Key deer is between 24-32 inches. Does weigh 45 to 65 pounds while bucks weigh 55 to 80. Rutting season activities begin in September, peaking in early October and decreasing gradually through November and December. Some breeding may occur as late as February. The gestation period is 204 days with fawns born April through June. At birth fawns weigh 2 to 4 pounds. Antlers on mature bucks are dropped February through March, and re-growth begins almost immediately so that by June, bucks with 2-inch stubs are seen. Antler growth is completed by August, and velvet is rubbed and kicked off in early September.|
|They feed on native plants such as red, black and white mangroves, thatch palm berries and over 160 other species of plants. Key deer can tolerate small amounts of salt water, but fresh water is essential for their survival. They must also have suitable habitat to ensure their future existence. No records exist documenting the origin of the deer in the keys. It is believed that the deer migrated to the keys from the mainland many thousands of years ago, across a long land bridge. As the Wisconsin Glacier melted, the sea rose dividing the land bridge into small islands now known as the Florida Keys.|
|Instead of stopping along a busy section of state highway, officials recommend that visitors travel to the north end of Key Deer Blvd. or to the east end of Watson Blvd. on No Name Key. This area is part of National Key Deer Refuge and offers safe viewing.|
For more information, contact:
United States Department of the Interior
Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges
PO Box 430510
Big Pine Key, Florida 33043-0510
Or to Make a donation, send it to:
Key Deer Protection Alliance, Inc.
PO Box 430224
Big Pine Key, Florida 33043
Friends and Volunteers of Refuges... Florida Keys
BO Box 431840
Big Pine Key, Florida 33043
For more technical information about the Key Deer, please Click Here
To get information about Big Pine, Click Here
To get information about the Florida Keys, Click Here
Much of this information was obtained from the U.S. fish and Wildlife Service publication "Facts on the Key Deer", which is available at their information center.