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Zoo Miami's Ron Magill Says Climate Change Must Be Considered When Protecting Endangered Species

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Trump Administration is scaling back endangered species regulations and is now proposing to strip the tiny Key Deer of its endangered species status.

This is despite what environmentalists say are continuing threats to the animal in the Florida Keys, its only known habitat.

Ron Magill, wildlife expert and communications director at Zoo Miami, explained that the Key Deer population, which was just a couple dozen in the 1950's and is up to around 600 currently, is very much in danger despite the growth in numbers.

"The population is up and it can be eradicated in one hurricane," said Magill. "They're in such a fragile habitat, the problem with these changes is you can't take into consideration climate change when you factor in whether we're going to protect an animal. That's like saying you have a video of a criminal clearly doing a crime but you can't show it to the jury because it's skeptical on how you obtained the video. It doesn't mean the video is wrong."

Magill believes it will continue to be a very difficult task to protect endangered animals if climate change is not taken seriously.

"Climate change is not some made up thing," he continued. "This is a science that is backed up by some of the most intelligent minds in the world and to not be able to put that as a factor to protect these animals, like Key Deer, that can be obliterated in one hurricane, is ludicrous."

There are other animals indigenous to South Florida that could be put at greater risk as well.

"Definitely the manatee, that was an animal that was on the cusp of extinction," said Magill. "The Florida panther, another animal being protected and now its numbers are higher than its been in generations because of that protection. The sea turtles, they're not necessarily a South Florida animal but they nest here.

"The problem is not only are we eradicating this protection but we're robbing our kids and their kids of seeing some of these natural treasures if they become extinct."

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