The issue: A species of deer may be taken off the endangered species list.
Our opinion: Key deer deserves federal protections.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is strongly considering dropping the Key deer from its endangered species list. Fortunately, the state wildlife agency has said it will step in to protect the nation’s smallest deer.
Key deer, which live in the Florida Keys (primarily on Big Pine Key), were nearly wiped out in the 1950s before environmental protections saved the species. They now number about 600.
Nevertheless, in what can only be termed as an anti-conversationalist move, FWS is letting the public know the Key deer may be on their way off the endangered species list. The FWS, which is charged with protecting species at risk, says the deer is no longer threatened despite a loss of habitat, Hurricane Irma and a parasite infestation that killed off 10% of the population a few years back.
State officials last week said if the FWS does drop the Key deer from the endangered species list, they would protect the deer until they had time conduct their own study.
It is baffling how FWS has shirked its responsibilities in the past few years when it comes to protecting wildlife.
The Key deer, which stands between 2 to 3 feet tall, is a big tourist attraction in the Keys. But rising sea levels have shrunk its habitat and wiped out many of the black mangroves that serve as the Key deer diet.
De-listing the animal that is constantly dealing with severe threats to its existences makes no sense.
We strongly urge the FWS to keep the Key deer on the endangered species list. Failing that, we hope state wildlife officials show better sense and continue to protect the Key deer.