By Darlene Evans

If you’ve ever been to Big Pine Key…certainly you have heard of the beautiful little deer that live there called “Key Deer.”  They are the smallest North American Deer.

There are about 1000 endangered Key deer that live in the National Key Deer refuge and more than 50 of them have been euthanized because of “New World screwworm larvae” infestation.

Refuge Manager Dan Clark said the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state officials are working to get rid the screwworm and find out where the infestation came from. Dan said….

“I think one of the biggest things that tugs at the emotions is these aren’t dead animals. Some of these deer are walking down the street with these infestations, We are talking hundreds and thousands of larvae.”

You see after the  screwworm larvae hatch… they  feed on the wounds of the injured animals.

After the deer are put down… they are being frozen because officials want to get all the larvae from the wounds of the deer due to fact that the larvae can burrow down really far into the skin.

In the past… chemicals and pesticides have not been effective in getting rid of the screwworm fly.   Today the USDA could start releasing sterile male flies to mate with the female flies.  Should take 3-4 months to get rid of the flies.

Now there is a voluntary inspection checkpoint at mile marker 106 in Key Largo.  After inspecting several dogs and cats … none of them showed signs of screwworm.

It has been confirmed that a pot-belly pig and two domesticated dogs had to be put down following the screwworm outbreak.



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