Authorities are investigating the shooting of a federally protected Key Deer near Key West that led to the endangered animal being euthanized.
The deer was found shot and severely injured Thursday in the area of Crane Boulevard on Sugarloaf Key, just north of Key West, authorities said.
Because of the severity of its injuries, the deer had to be euthanized.
Due to their status, it's illegal to hurt, kill or harass Key Deer in the Florida Keys.
Get South Florida local news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC South Florida newsletters.
According to the group Save Our Key Deer, the leading cause of death or injury for Key Deer is being hit by a car, but intentional killings may be on the rise.
"It's difficult to say how frequently this type of thing happens because people are quick to get rid of the evidence," Save Our Key Deer President Valerie Preziosi said. "But these past 12 months have had the most cases that we are aware of."
Crime Stoppers of Miami-Dade and the Florida Keys is offering a reward of up to $2,000 in the case. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is also offering a reward.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.