2 men accused of kidnapping endangered Key deer in Marathon

Author: CBS Miami Staff
An endangered Key deer found in the truck of two Miami men in marathon, Sunday, July 24, 2022. Credit: Monroe County Sheriff’s Office

Two Miami men were arrested Sunday after a Key deer was found in their truck following a traffic stop in Marathon.

Monroe County sheriff’s deputies stopped a blue Chevrolet hatchback-style vehicle near Mile Marker 56 after they said the driver failed to stay in his lane.

The 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 truck said they struck the deer on U.S. 1 north of the Seven Mile Bridge, an area not known to be a Key deer habitat.

They told the deputies they were taking 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.

The men, who admitted to putting the deer in the vehicle, were arrested.

Yoankis Hernandez Pena, 38, and Andres Leon Valdes, 45, have been charged with cruelty to animals and taking, possessing, or selling a federally designated endangered or threatened species.

This is not the first time two men have been arrested after removing Key deer from their natural habitat.

The deer was taken 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.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.