Key deer were almost hunted to extinction. By 1950, as few as 25-50 of the animals were left.
But the creation of the National Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key and protection under the Endangered Species Act have led to a comeback. The most recent population study estimates the herd at 900 to 1,000.
"They are truly one of the success stories of conservation," said Adam Emerick, a refuge biologist who gave an update on the Key deer to the Monroe County Commission this week.