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Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge
key deer
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key deer nwr pine rocklands
blue hole key deer nwr
mangroves key deer nwr
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28950 Watson Boulevard
Big Pine Key

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Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge has to be among the most ecologically diverse natural areas in South Florida. Its 9,022 acres includes pine-rockland habitat, tropical hardwood hammocks, saltwater marshes, wetlands and mangrove forests. It is home to 17 endangered plants and animals, including its namesake, the key deer.

There are three interpretive trails, and an observation platform at Blue Hole on Big Pine Key. There are other trails throughout the refuge that are open to the public.  The Jack Watson Trail — the largest on Big Pine — is probably the most rugged and primative we've walked. It is well-marked, but limestone outcrops and wet areas in spots might be difficult for some to negotiate. However, Big Pine itself is a key deer refuge and it's almost impossible to spend any time on the island with encountering the animals either while driving or walking around. Most of the refuge is on Big Pine Key and No Name Key, but there are also trails on Cudjoe Key, Upper Sugarloaf Key, and Lower Sugar Key.

The refuge center is in the Big Pine Shopping Center, and includes exhibits, maps and information about other natural attractions in the area. Key Deer is by far the most accessible of the four wildlife refuges in the Keys, the others being Key West, Great White Heron and Crocodile Lake. Both Key West and Great White Heron require a boat to explore, while Crocodile Lake is closed to the public beyond its butterfly garden.


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Additional Links for Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge
Institute for Regional Conservation FAVOR Florida Keys Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Complex Facebook Great Florida Birding Trail
 
Photo Gallery for Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge
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Unless otherwise stated, all photographs are property of the publishers and may not be used without their express permission.