Authors: Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources

The Florida Key deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium) are an endangered subspecies of white-tailed deer endemic to the Lower Florida Keys. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is tasked with managing the extant population and moving towards recovery. In July 2016, Key deer were reported to have lesions consistent with New World screwworm (Cochliomyia hominivorax) infestation. Entomologists subsequently confirmed the presence of New World screwworm (hereafter screwworm) in recent months. Screwworm is a threat to U.S. agricultural interests and ecological health prompting an immediate and large response. Local, state, and federal agencies mobilized efforts to stop any further expansion of screwworm in North America and to eradicate the current infestation in the Lower Florida Keys. The USFWS, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Monroe County, Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR), and local community members have partnered to address the screwworm infestation. This multi-agency response consists of three distinct but related actions: (1) elimination of screwworm flies, (2) treatment of impacted animals and implementation of preventative strategies, (3) determination of Key deer population status and recovery strategies. These efforts are ongoing. The focus of this report is to determine Key deer population status and future recovery strategies. Synthesis of historic and newly collected data on Key deer distribution, population density, demographics, and screwworm-caused mortalities provided insight into screwworm impacts.