Key deer, a subspecies of White-tailed deer, are indigenous to the Florida Keys. They are the smallest deer in North America, about the size of a very large dog. Living close to humans, they have little of the natural fear of man shown by most of their larger mainland relatives. The deer are often found in residents’ yards and along roadsides where plants and flowers grow. This often results in car-to-deer collisions, as the deer are more active and harder to avoid at night. Seeing them at dusk and dawn is not unusual. This last trait has left the Key deer an endangered animal. They are not very good at avoiding cars.
We saw this deer on Big Pine Key, near the Blue Hole. The Blue Hole is a fresh water inland sinkhole. We had strayed off the Overseas Highway to visit this place, in the hope of seeing alligators, which in hindsight seems a little silly, considering the dozens of alligators that we saw later, in the Everglades. A pair of deer were across the street from this feature, munching on grass. I had taken Key Deer Boulevard, past the National Key Deer Refuge and was stuck behind another car that was driving incredibly slow, at least in my opinion. It wasn’t until we were on our return leg and passed back through Big Pine Key that I noticed all of the special speed limits that are designed to protect these creatures, who have the unfortunate proclivity of running out in front of cars.