Odocoileus virginianus clavium
Shoulder height, 61-81 cm
Estimated at 500
Restricted to Lower Keys at the extreme southern tip of Florida, especially National Key Deer Refuge at Big Pine Key
Florida Keys, Florida 33042, USA
When is a deer too dear? Florida's Key deer is certainly well loved—it's known as a "toy" deer by many who are charmed by its small size and adorable appearance. But by feeding the deer, well-meaning humans are blunting the instincts it needs to survive in the wild. Left to its own devices, it spends up to half the day foraging from a long menu of more than 160 plant species. Bucks and does come together mostly during mating season. Unable to reproduce quickly enough to offset losses due to human disturbance, the population was down to an estimated 26 by 1945, Habitat loss and fatal run-ins with cars threaten the hard-won gains that have been made since.