BIG CYPRESS NATIONAL PRESERVE
No deer hunting in Stairsteps unit
Wildlife officials are calling off this fall and winter deer hunting season on 100,000 acres in the Big Cypress National Preserve due to a dramatic decline in the size of the deer herd. The National Park Service has been keeping a watchful eye on the decline in the preserve's southernmost region. The area is known as the Stairsteps Unit for its jagged shared boundary with Everglades National Park south of U.S. 41. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is responding by calling off the hunting seasons for certain parts of the park. Deer season is open, though, in other parts of the 729,000-acre preserve. Theories for the decline include high water levels, disease and predators.
Facebook photos lead to wildlife charges
Wildlife officials have cited two central Florida residents after uncovering photos on Facebook of an illegal deer skinning.
Twenty-one-year-old William Andrew Buchanan and 27-year-old Tara Anne Carver have both been cited with possession of wildlife taken illegally, a second-degree misdemeanor.
Investigators say they found photos on Facebook, a social media site, of the skinning picturing both suspects.
According to authorities, Buchanan confirmed he had helped skin the deer, but wouldn't admit to shooting or being present when it was killed. Investigators say Carver also admitted to skinning the animal.
The deer was reportedly killed in May, outside of the permitted hunting season.
High school football player collapses, dies
A high school student collapsed on a football field during practice and later died.
The 15-year-old Wekiva High School student was taken Tuesday to a nearby hospital, where he died.
A pep rally that had been scheduled for an upcoming Wekiva High football game against Apopka High School was canceled.
Suspected cockfight operation discovered
More than 600 fighting roosters were found at two southwest Florida properties in what authorities say was a cockfighting operation.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is removing the roosters and collecting forensic evidence after Lee County officials executed a search warrant Tuesday morning.
The eight-month investigation resulted in the arrests of 37-year-old Pedro Lopez and 54-year-old William Roman.
Both men face various charges related to animal fighting, and Lopez faces additional drug charges.
WEST PALM BEACH
Race's image upsets Cuban community
The use of Che Guevara's image to promote an irreverent auto race is upsetting some in South Florida's Cuban community.
The "24 Horas de Cuba del Norte" — or 24 Hours of Cuba of the North — is part of a national circuit of farcical auto races. Drivers must use junk cars and spend less than $500 on entries, which are decorated like Halloween floats.
Other races in the national circuit have names like the "Can't Get Bayou" in New Orleans and the "Rod Blagojevich Never-Say-Die 500" in Chicago.
Race organizers say they have no plans to change the campaign.
Shopkeeper accused of shooting customer
A shopkeeper is accused of chasing down and shooting a customer he wrongly believed stole a DVD.
David Nathaniel Hamilton Jr. was arrested on aggravated assault charges after the Sunday night shooting.
A witness told police the victim showed Hamilton his pockets after he was accused of shoplifting, but that didn't convince him.
The Florida Times-Union reported that Hamilton followed the customer out of the store and shot him in the arm with a .38-caliber revolver.
Deputy hurt after own Taser barbs hit hand
A Lee County deputy accidentally shocked himself with a stun gun during an arrest.
A 911 caller Sunday said she was attacked by 22-year-old Shane Steven Plazola. When deputies arrived, they found Plazola in bed.
They tried to awaken him and Deputy Ronald Flynn leaned over him to see if Plazola was breathing.
Authorities say Plazola then punched the deputy in the cheek, knocking him backward.
Several deputies then tried to subdue Plazola.
Flynn was hurt while firing his Taser and raising another hand to protect himself. Two barbs lodged in his hand and he was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Plazola was arrested.