Two mainland South Florida men were jailed Sunday after police found three hog-tied Key deer in the car they were driving south on Little Torch Key.
What Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Austin Hopp found after pulling over the men at mile marker 28 bayside were two doe in the back seat of the Hyundai Sonata and a buck in the trunk, said Dan Clark, manager of the National Key Deer Refuge.
Erik Acosta Damas, 18, of Miami Gardens and Tumani Anthony Younge, 23, of Tamarac in Broward County had been pulled over for having a tail light out.
The deer had been tied up with twine after being captured on Big Pine Key, Clark said. They grow to about the size of a large dog, are found only in the Florida Keys and become stressed easily, especially if captured, Clark said.
“When you’re an 80-pound wild animal and tied up and thrown in the back of a car, you might thrash around a bit,” Clark said of the deer, which had some cuts and bruises but were released on Little Torch Key by officers with the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The deer population is estimated at 600 to 800.
Clark said the two doe ran into the woods and the buck was slow but will be observed for a few weeks in the wild by Fish and Wildlife officers.
Damas and Younge each received the same 12 charges: Three felony counts for wounding a protected species; three misdemeanor counts for taking deer out of season; three misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty; and three misdemeanor FWC charges for illegal possession or taking of deer.
They were booked into the county jail on Stock Island with bond set at $57,000 each. The felonies are punishable by up to up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000, said FWC spokesman Officer Robert Dube. They also face the possibility of being federally charged.
Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219