Evaluation of the Efficacy of Florida Key Deer Translocations Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The endangered Florida Key deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium) is endemic to the Lower Florida Keys. In recent years, habitat fragmentation and restricted dispersal have resulted in small, isolated herds on some islands. Recovery biologists proposed translocations to increase the island herds that had declined or remained low; however, efficacy of Key deer translocations had yet to be evaluated. Our objective was to evaluate survival, ranges, reproduction, and dispersal of translocated deer. During 2003-2005, we translocated 39 adult or yearling deer to Sugarloaf (approx. 19 km from trap site; 10 M, 14 F) and Cudjoe (approx. 15 km from trap site; 6 M, 9 F) keys. We kept deer in large, high-fenced holding pens (Sugarloaf = 7.7 ha, Cudjoe = 10.7 ha) on the destination islands for 3-6 months (i.e., soft release). We observed low mortality (n = 6 mortalities) of translocated deer with average annual survival (S) of 0.796 for both sexes. We found translocated deer had larger seasonal ranges than did resident deer (i.e., those located on Big Pine and No Name keys). In evaluating effects of acclimation period on ranges and dispersal, we found no difference in 95% ranges or 50% core areas ≤4 month postrelease versus 4-8 months postrelease. We found, however, postrelease dispersal distances were dependent on time kept in pen. Only 2 of 39 (5%) translocated deer left the destination islands by the end of the study. With high survival and low dispersal indicating success, we credit soft release translocation in establishing deer herds on Sugarloaf and Cudjoe keys. Our data support translocations as an effective strategy for creating sustainable outer-island Key deer herds.

author list (cited authors)

  • Parker, I. D., Watts, D. E., Lopez, R. R., Silvy, N. J., Davis, D. S., McCleery, R. A., & Frank, P. A.

citation count

  • 13

publication date

  • July 2008

publisher