Two South Florida men were arrested over the weekend after a Monroe County sheriff's deputy stopped their vehicle and found three Key deer inside, authorities said.
According to an arrest report, the deputy pulled over the car shortly before 1:30 a.m. Sunday in Little Torch Key and found two Key deer bound and struggling in the back seat.
The deputy notified the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, who sent an officer to assist the deputy.
Authorities said FWC Officer Matthew Rubenstein and Deputy Austin Hopp removed the two deer from the back seat, and another deer from the trunk of the vehicle.
All three deer were tied and had injuries consistent with struggling in a confined space, the report said.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Officer Jared Brierley was called to the scene and identified the animals as endangered Key deer.
Authorities said photographs were taken for evidence, and the three deer were released back into the wild as quickly as possible in the hopes that more injury and shock would be prevented.
Erik Yosmany Damas Acosta, 18, of Miami Gardens, and Tumani Anthony Younge, 23, of Tamarac, were arrested on multiple charges, including multiple third-degree felonies and first-degree misdemeanors for injuring an endangered species, taking deer out of season and animal cruelty.
When asked why they tied up the deer, Damas Acosta said he had tied them up after luring them with food and that he only planned to take pictures with them.
Acosta went on to say that he didn't know the deer were endangered.
Third-degree felonies are punishable by up to up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
This BBSNews article originally appeared on News | WPLG.