The Florida Department of Agriculture is facing a severe problem. The native Key deer species is confronting a terrible outbreak which is decimating the populations. The numerous cases that the officials reported lead them to believe that they are dealing with an outbreak.
Screwworms are larvae of a carnivorous type of fly. The insects lay their eggs in the open wounds of animals, and the larvae feed on living tissue. Infected animals tend to leave their groups. According to specialists, they die within one or two weeks.
The Key deer is an endangered species which has been severely affected by the outbreak. The first cases were reported in September, and much more followed. Authorities are in charged with tracking the infected animals and euthanize them in order to put an end to their suffering.
Specialists are highly concerned about Key deer males. They are prone to injuries because they engage in fights and get scratches because of their opponents’ horns. Such scratches are enough to attract flies, and this is why the bucks are an easy target for the carnivorous insects.
Statistics show that there are only one hundred Key deer individuals in the world. The species is considered to be endangered, and the recent plague has already killed sixty of them. Wildlife specialists are doing their best to stop the outbreak. They hope to save the animals and eliminate the threat as soon as possible.
Experts say that the flies and their mischievous behavior can’t affect humans. However, other pets can be affected. This is why they decided to check on pets and other animals in order to make sure that the infection doesn’t spread further.
Florida faced screwworm outbreaks in the past. The last one occurred more than fifty years ago, and people were concerned about their livestock. Authorities curbed the rapid spreading of the flies by introducing sterile males in the wild so that females wouldn’t lay eggs anymore. Wildlife experts think it is a good solution that will pay off this time too.
The one thousand Key deer individuals stand as a proof of the environmentalists’ efforts to save the species. The Key deer was one of the first animals protected under the Endangered Species Act. They were added to the list back in the 1950s when there were less than thirty of them in the wild.
Wildlife specialists hope that they will be able to save the Key deer, just like they did in the past.
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