MONROE COUNTY, Fla. – Two Miami men were arrested Sunday after deputies said they kidnapped a Key deer in Marathon.
Yoankis Hernandez Pena, 38, and Andres Leon Valdes, 45, are facing animal cruelty charges after investigators found the injured deer in their vehicle during a traffic stop in the Florida Keys, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.
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According to deputies, they pulled over the Chevrolet hatchback near mile marker 56 for failing to stay in its lane shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday. Investigators said they then found the deer inside the car on top of a cooler, lawn chairs and other miscellaneous objects.
The men told deputies they struck the Key deer, which is considered by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to be an endangered subspecies of white-tailed deer found exclusively in the Florida Keys, on U.S. 1 north of the Seven Mile Bridge and initially thought it was dead.
Pena and Valdes added that they then realized the deer was alive and were taking it to a veterinarian in Miami for treatment but did not call 911 or the FWC, according to deputies.
The sheriff’s office said the area where they claimed they struck the deer is also not consistent with the known Key deer habitat, specifically Big Pine Key, No Name Key and patches of other areas in the Lower Keys.
FWC officials responded to investigate, resulting in Pena and Valdes are facing two charges each, including cruelty to animals and taking, possessing or selling a federally designated endangered or threatened species.
The deer was taken to FWC officials on Big Pine Key alive, where it is being treated by a veterinarian and will be released back into the wild if it survives.
For more information on Key deer, click here.
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