Two Florida men were arrested Sunday after deputies found a live, but injured deer, in their truck following a traffic stop in Marathon.
“We always talk about our law enforcement partners as our unique community relies on those partnerships,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “Thanks to the great work by our Deputies and the quick actions of FWC, the Key deer is alive, and hopefully it will recover and be released.”
A Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy stopped a blue Chevrolet hatchback-style vehicle near Mile Marker 56 that was failing to stay in its lane at approximately 1:56 a.m.
Deputies quickly realized why the vehicle was not staying in its lane: An injured Key deer was inside the vehicle on top of a cooler, lawn chairs, and other miscellaneous objects.
The two men in the vehicle said they struck the Key deer on U.S. 1 north of the Seven Mile Bridge and initially thought it was dead. Deputies say that area is not consistent with the known Key deer habitat, specifically Big Pine Key, No Name Key and patches of other areas in the Lower Keys.
The men stated they initially thought the deer was dead but realized the deer was still alive, so they decided to take it to a veterinarian in Miami for treatment. Both men stated they never called 911, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
FWC officers responded to investigate further.
The men who admitted to putting the deer in the vehicle were arrested.
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The FWC charged Yoankis Hernandez Pena, 38, and Andres Leon Valdes, 45, both from Miami, with cruelty to animals and taking, possessing or selling a federally designated endangered or threatened species.
They were taken to the Monroes County jail.
The deer was taken alive to U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials on Big Pine Key where it is being treated by a veterinarian. The deer will be released back into the wild if it survives.