Endangered baby deer on the mend

August 7, 2008 6:49:58 PM PDT
A tiny Key deer is being nursed back to health in Key West, Florida. The infant Key deer is recovering from injuries sustained when it was hit by a car. It's now the newest resident at the Monroe County Sheriff's Office Animal Farm situated at the county's detention center, just outside Key West.

The tiny deer, named Tina, is about 10 weeks old and was struck on Big Pine Key in mid-June. Among other relatively minor injuries, the animal sustained a broken leg and was taken to the Marathon Veterinary Hospital for treatment. Late Monday the cast was removed and the animal was deemed in excellent health.

But the diminutive 10-pound fawn can not be released into the wild because she has been bottle-fed and now has imprinted on humans. The U-S Fish and Wildlife Service has given permission for the animal to live at the farm.

Indigenous to the lower Florida Keys, hunters nearly wiped out the species. The Key deer population has increased from about 50 animals in the 19-50s to a current herd of about 700.

Adult Key deer are about the size of a large dog, with an average weight of 65 to 90 pounds, and are the smallest subspecies of the North American white-tailed deer.

Tina is now one of about 300 domestic and exotic animals either abandoned, confiscated or donated that are in refuge at the farm.