His excuse: he wanted to take pictures with them!
The Key deer is an endangered subspecies of the whitetailed deer that lives only in the Florida Keys. Current estimates peg the number of Key deer at only 600.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission posted the following news release to their Facebook page on July 3, after a routine traffic stop that took place the previous day:
Three Endangered Key Deer Rescued
“Early Sunday morning, a car with a broken taillight was pulled over by a Monroe County Sheriff’s deputy. He contacted us when he discovered endangered Key deer bound with heavy twine in the vehicle. When our FWC officer arrived on scene, he found two struggling hogtied Key deer in the back seat and another in the trunk of the car. Backup arrived along with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officer and they worked quickly to document the scene, gather evidence, safely untie and evaluate the endangered animals. In order to prevent further stress to the deer, all three were released back into the wild. Two of the deer ran off, and wellness checks are being conducted by USFWS on the third. The two men in the vehicle were arrested on multiple charges, including felonies and misdemeanors for injuring an endangered species, take of deer out of season and animal cruelty. They were booked into Monroe County Jail.”
Erik Damas Acosta, an 18-year-old from Miami Gardens, was driving the black Hyundai Sonata while Tumani Younge, 23, was in the passenger seat. Acosta’s excuse for having the three deer in the car: he wanted to take pictures with them.
“Erik lured the Key deer close with pieces of bread, grabbed them, bound their feet with ropes and put them in his car. Acosta also told the deputy that Younge was asleep when the deer were captured on Big Pine Key and that he had nothing to do with their apprehension. The two does and one buck had injuries consistent with being confined to a tight space, with wounds all over their body and heads and blood soaked into the fabric of the car seats, according to the arrest warrants.”
Both men face five years in prison and fines of $5,000 each. Bond has been set at $57,000 apiece.
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