During recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, a Florida Keys Strike Team was checking on a badly damaged structure in the Lower Keys on Monday when it got a surprise visit from a native resident: a Key deer.
"As I was walking through [the structure], this deer popped up," Lt. Nicholas Johnson of the Broward Sheriff's Office Fire Rescue said in a Facebook video. "I don't know who was more scared, myself or the deer…
"It looked a little thirsty."
So the Keys Strike Team offered it some hurricane relief, as reported by the SunSentinel. Monroe County Board of County Commissioners posted video of the relief effort on Facebook:
"We went and got a couple bottles of water and I couldn't believe how much water it drank," Johnson said. "It drank four bottles of water."
Florida wildlife experts told the strike team that the storm surge took out a lot of the freshwater supplies of the native deer population of the Keys. The saltwater mixed with the freshwater.
The population of Key deer, an endangered species, was estimated to be 700 to 800. How the deer fared through Hurricane Irma remains largely unknown, though several social media postings showed Key deer roaming around on Big Pine Key, home of the National Key Deer Refuge.
Dan Clark, manager of the refuge, told the SunSentinel he is optimistic, pointing to the fact that the Key deer have lived on the islands for thousands of years and managed to survive.
"They're wild animals that live in the wild, and deer are probably best able to prepare themselves," he told the SunSentinel
As for the deer that quenched its thirst, he regained enough strength to run off back into the wild.
"I am just glad to not only help the residents but the wildlife as well," Johnson said.
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