Oh, deer — that’s not legal!
Two Miami men were busted this week with an endangered Key deer in the back of their ride, deputies said.
Yoankis Hernandez Pena, 38, and Andres Leon Valdes, 45, were arrested during a traffic stop early Sunday in Marathon, where deputies noticed their Chevrolet hatchback swerving in and out of a lane, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies found an injured Key deer inside the vehicle on top of a cooler, some lawn chairs and other miscellaneous items, authorities said.
Pena and Valdes claimed they struck the endangered deer on US 1 north of the Seven Mile Bridge and thought it was dead. But the area is not a known Key deer habitat, deputies said.
The men eventually realized the deer had survived and said they decided to take the animal to a vet for treatment, but neither Pena nor Valdes called 911 or state or federal wildlife officials, deputies said.
The deer was taken alive to US Fish and Wildlife officials on Big Pine Key, where it’s being treated by a veterinarian. The animal will be released back into the wild if it survives.
Pena and Valdes were jailed on charges of cruelty to animals and taking, possessing or selling a federally designated endangered or threatened species, deputies said.
The endangered Key deer, a subspecies of the white-tailed variety, are solely found in the Florida Keys, where fewer than 50 were tallied in the 1940s amid widespread hunting and habitat destruction. The current population is estimated to be between 700 and 800, according to state wildlife officials.