FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RE: Florida Dept. Of Transportation (FDOT) Re-Repairs Deer Fence in Big Pine Key Contact: Save Our Key Deer, Inc. President: Valerie Preziosi – 760-807-9064
With a planned complete replacement of the Irma-destroyed Big Pine Key US-1 Wildlife Exclusion Fence still many months away, a Key Deer advocacy group and Florida Dept. of Transportation have collaborated to immediately strengthen much needed fence repairs. Work to take place 4/23-26/2019 on US-1.
More than 1 1⁄2 years after Hurricane Irma’s destruction in the Florida Keys much reconstruction still needs to be done, including the replacement of fencing along US-1 in Big Pine Key that has been minimizing motorist collisions with the endangered Key Deer since 2002. Many of the fence sections got completely destroyed by the storm, and in the following months deer collisions spiked along its 1.6 mile stretch. At the urging of a Key Deer advocacy group – Save Our Key Deer, Inc. (SOKD) – the Florida Dept. of Transportation (FDOT) had the fence temporarily repaired a couple of months after the storm. Parts of the old fence were used in some areas, temporary wire mesh was patched into other gaps, mostly using plastic zip-ties. While that effort dramatically reduced car-deer collisions along that US-1 section, time and weather began to make many of the fixes fail into 2018. Based on a sudden deer-collision incidence spike reported to SOKD mid-June by concerned citizens, SOKD performed a detailed survey of the repaired fence. Gates were found either fully open from failed/tampered locking mechanisms or partially opened by the storm force – in one case with a deer carcass stuck stretched half-way through. Several portions of the fence stood up only by tree-limb props. Many of the original plastic zip ties have broken due to age and sun exposure. During the initial survey SOKD found (and rescued from the road corridor) 3 deer trapped there and 7 total since. SOKD has monitored and done repairs as-best-as-possible on the fence since, on a weekly basis using volunteers.
Since late 2018, SOKD has been urging FDOT to speed up the fence replacement or find other ways to minimize further car-deer collisions. With complete fence replacement being in the works but not immediately possible, FDOT has agreed to fund another temporary fence repair project that should prolong the effectiveness of the temporarily-fixed fence until its replacement. The work is being done by Aquatic Vegetation Control, Inc. Some of the planed actions are: new in-ground poles to hold fence sections securely; replace failing plastic zip ties with stainless steel ones; barricade wall-fence openings; block gate openings so deer (especially upcoming fawns) and small wildlife cannot go through or get stuck in them.
Please support SOKD/FDOT crews on Tuesday- Thursday on BPK US-1 this week! Thank You!
P.O. Box 431303, Big Pine Key, FL 33043 www.saveourkeydeer.org