Florida Deer: An estimated 542,000 deer in 2019, down from about 650,000 deer in 2017. Hunting data indicates a significant decline in 2018. An estimated population of 700,000 in 2014 and exceeding 700,000 in 2006. The deer hunt peaked in 2008-09, a significant population decline since then. An estimated 45,000 to 50,000 deer in 1951. Herd analysis at right.
Comments from the state indicate an approximately steady population through 2018 with lower populations in thee Big Bend region, south Florida, and Zone A. Reports of a 94 percent reduction in the white-tailed deer in the Everglades due to Burmese pythons in 2018. In 2016 emergency pumping in the Everglades to prevent deer from drowning or starving.
In 2015 Florida biologist instituted antler point restrictions in an effort to increase the deer population over the next five years. Good rainfall that year benefited deer.
(2014 Population estimated by UofFL Extension)
A research paper published in 2006 reports the "population estimates exceed 700,000 deer statewide." The deer harvest peaked in 2008-09 at almost 180,000 up from about 60,000 in 1998-99. Some antlerless deer restrictions for areas A1, A2, and A3 for 2015 were designed to grow the herd.
Approximately 137,000 deer hunters in the state taking about 20 percent of the herd each year. The deer harvest fell by 45 percent from 2010 to 2017. A study of deer populations in 2009 including deer from the northwest and southwest regions shows a balanced buck to doe ratio of close to 50:50 with fawning rates of 41% singles, 57% twins, 2% triplets.
Deer were numerous in the Florida Panhandle based on reports from the late 1600's, but commercial hunting for deer hides reduced the herd to about 20,000 by the 1700s. In 1828 the first hunting regulations were enacted to protect the herd, a ban on fire hunting west of the Suwanee River. Development in Florida opened up much of the state beginning in the late 1800's. Over hunting and a deer removal campaign to eradicate the cattle-fever tick in the 1930s and 40s decimated the population, back to the historic low population of about 20,000. The legislature authorized participation in the Federal Aid to Wildlife program in 1941, beginning an era of deer conservation. By 1951, the deer herd had grown to around 45,000 to 50,000. By 1985, the annual deer harvest rose to over 100,000 for the first time, marking the beginning of the modern era of deer management. See FWC.
Three subspecies of deer in Florida: coastal whitetail in the Panhandle, Florida whitetail throughout the peninsula, and a small population of protected Key deer in Big Pine Key.
Key Deer migrated from the mainland during the last Ice Age when sea levels were lower. Only 25 to 50 Key deer were left by 1950 after hunting. Less than 50 in 1967 when the were listed under the Endangered Species Act. About 250 in the early 1980s, estimated at about 600 in 2011 through 2014 after 30 years of protection. Population estimates rose to 900 to 1,000, but a screw worm out beak in 2016 and hurricane Irma in 2018 brought the population down with estimates in 2019 of about 1,000 and in 2020 of 573 to 800. Less than 1,000 in 2021. In 2019 there were discussions of removing key deer from the endangered species list, although their future is uncertain given sea rise. More history and Florida deer information from the 2008 management plan.
Population Estimates: 33,000 in 1940, 300,000 in 1969.
Florida Panther population estimated in February, 2017, of 120 to 230 adult and subadults. The population in 2016 estimated at 100 to 180, 15 nearly 180 in 2015, at 2014 estimate from 120 to 180, up from 30 in 1995, the start of a restoration program. Around the year 1900, nearly 1300 panthers.
Bear population in 2016 estimated at 4,350 adults, up from 300 to 500 in the 1970's.
Report poaching: Wildlife Alert Line at 1-888-404-FWCC
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