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Wildlife Agency Phases Out Screwworm Medicines For Key Deer

Judy Gallagher
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Wildlife officials say endangered Key deer no longer need anti-parasite medication to fight off flesh-eating screwworms.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials said Thursday that they plan to start phasing out oral medications for the deer on April 10. Earlier this month, the agency removed devices applying anti-parasite medication to deer stopping at feeding troughs in the National Key Deer Refuge.

A screwworm infestation that began last summer killed 135 Key deer in the refuge on Big Pine Key. No wild screwworms have been found and no deer have died since early January.

U.S. wildlife officials said they'll continue to monitor the deer with tracking collars and remote cameras.

Florida's agriculture commissioner has said other efforts to keep screwworms from spreading to the mainland also are winding down.