Recent Hurricanes Pushed Rare Island Species Closer to the Brink
From the iconic Key deer to rare birds, insects, and plants, the wildlife of the Florida Keys took a beating during Hurricane Irma. Can it recover?
As Hurricane Irma slammed into south Florida in September, Dan Clark, manager of a complex of four national wildlife refuges in the Florida Keys, had evacuated and was at his mother’s house near Tampa. His eye was on the weather and his mind was on the multitude of plants and animals that inhabit the unique refuge system he oversees, which includes the well-known Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge.
There are about 20 federally endangered species in the Keys, and many of them exist nowhere else on Earth. “The dang eye of the hurricane tore right through the prime habitat for many of our most at-risk species,” said Clark.
One animal of particular concern was the Key deer, a