A Big Pine Key man who allegedly shot to death an endangered Key deer for eating plants in his garden faces a pre-trial hearing Thursday in Key West.
Grant Wilson, 33, faces a third-degree felony charge of killing a protected species. He was arrested and booked into the Stock Island jail on June 13 for killing the deer and bonded out on $15,000 a day later.
Key deer have been protected by federal law as an endangered species since March 1967. The herd, usually estimated at about 800 deer, exists only in the Lower Keys. The deer grow to about as big as a large dog.
Flashing yellow signs across Big Pine Key urge motorists to slow down for the deer.
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According to witnesses, after he shot the deer, Wilson dragged the deer carcass to mangroves near his Bogie Drive home, off the channel between Big Pine and No Name Key, and left it there before officers eventually found the remains.
FWC officers seized two high-powered Crossman pellet guns, a rifle and a handgun.
Dustin Hunter, Wilson’s defense attorney, declined to comment on the case.
Wilson’s pre-trial hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday in front of Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Mark Jones at the Freeman Justice Center on Whitehead Andrew in Key West.