A short 25 minute drive from your hotel room at Tranquility Bay lies an incredible 14-square mile nature preserve established to protect one of South Florida’s most treasured inhabitants: The Key Deer. Measuring under 30 inches tall, the Key Deer is a subset species of the White Tailed Deer that swims easily between islands and, after being hunted to the brink of extinction only a few decades ago, is now a protected endangered species native only to the Florida Keys. These diminutive creatures are usually friendly towards humans, but keep in mind: due to their protected status, it is a felony to feed them, to set out water or salt licks for them, or to touch them in any way!
Luckily, visitors who wish to view these spectacularly adorable animals may do so up close in a secure environment: The National Key Deer Refuge. Located at 28950 Watson Blvd., on Big Pine Key, the refuge offers a safe habitat for the deer to roam and feed, and provides ample viewing areas for families who wish to get a closer look at this elusive species. Come and visit with one of South Florida’s precious treasures– you’ll be glad you did.
For more information on the refuge, including directions, visit: http://www.fws.gov/nationalkeydeer/