A South Florida man will spend a year in jail after using bread to bait three Key deer, hog-tying the protected animals and then tossing them in his car. One of the deer later died.
His accomplice was sentenced to time served and 180 days of house arrest. Both Erik Damas Acosta, 18, of Miami Gardens, who got the stiffer sentence, and Tumani Younge, 23, of Tamarac, will also serve two years of probation and perform 200 hours of community service, U.S. District Judge Jose Martinez ordered at their Key West sentencing hearing on Tuesday.
The pair enraged locals, who care for the deer, after they were pulled over on Little Torch Key in July for a traffic stop and the deer were discovered in their car. A buck was stuffed in the trunk and two deer were found in the back seat.
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The deer were alive, but covered with wounds. The does were released by wildlife officers near where the men were stopped. The male suffered a broken leg and was euthanized a few days later.
Acosta later told authorities that Younge was asleep when he caught the deer, which he wanted to photograph.
The dog-sized deer only live in the Lower Keys, where the planet’s last herd now number between 600 and 800. About an eighth of the herd was wiped out after an outbreak of flesh-eating New World screwworm last year, the first in the continental U.S. in 30 years, killed 135.
Martinez ruled that neither men, who were jailed on $57,000 bond, could afford to pay a $5,000 fine.
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