An endangered Key deer was shot. Can you help the authorities find who did it?

·2 min read

A Key deer, one of an endangered herd that exists only in the Florida Keys, was found shot Thursday morning.

The deer was so badly injured that authorities said they had to euthanize it.

Federal and state officials are asking the public to help them find who did it. They are offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction in the deer’s shooting.

The Key deer was found by a resident near Crane Boulevard on Sugarloaf Key in the Lower Keys, said Mark Davis, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southeast Region.

The person called the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, which contacted state wildlife officials.

“We are unsure of the time,” Davis said. “There isn’t a lot of information yet.”

In the last couple of years, Key deer have been hit with an outbreak of screwworm, the first in the continental U.S. in three decades, and Hurricane Irma. Now federal wildlife managers are quietly reviewing their protected status.
In the last couple of years, Key deer have been hit with an outbreak of screwworm, the first in the continental U.S. in three decades, and Hurricane Irma. Now federal wildlife managers are quietly reviewing their protected status.

Key deer are protected under the Endangered Species Act and Florida state law. Intentionally killing one is punishable by up to one year in federal prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

The beloved, dog-sized Key deer live and roam mostly around Big Pine Key and No Name Key, where residents see them daily in neighborhoods, crossing roads and sitting in yards.

People sometimes feed the docile deer, which federal and state officials say causes harm by drawing the animals to roadsides and homes, which exposes them to traffic dangers and disease.

In addition to threats of traffic crashes, they were attacked by a grisly screwworm infestation in 2016, which killed nearly an eighth of the deer. A year later, their habitat was battered by Hurricane Irma.

Fewer than 1,000 Key deer remain. They grow to about three feet tall.

To help

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s 24-hour hotline at 888-404-3922. Callers can remain anonymous.

Tipsters can also email Tip@MyFWC.com or make a report online They also can call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement at 786-236-2862.

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