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Survey: 949 endangered Key deer survived Hurricane Irma's landfall in Florida Keys

Survey: 949 endangered Key deer survived Hurricane Irma's landfall in Florida Keys
Posted at 2:56 AM, Oct 23, 2017

Federal wildlife officials say Hurricane Irma didn't wipe out a herd of tiny, endangered deer found only in the Florida Keys.

According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey released late last week, 949 Key deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium) survived the hurricane's 130-mph (209-kph) winds and 10 feet (3 meters) of storm surge.

Irma made landfall Sept. 10 near the National Key Deer Refuge, the only place where the 30-inch-tall (76-cm-tall) deer are found.

Officials said Irma directly caused the deaths of 21 Key deer. Another 12 deer have died in vehicle collisions since the storm.

The herd had faced potential extinction last year when flesh-eating screwworms killed dozens of deer. Officials say they deer seen in the refuge since the hurricane appear to be healthy and active.