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FWC says charges filed after Maryland man tackled pelican in the Florida Keys

Posted: 6:19 AM, Mar 11, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-11 15:25:40Z
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is working to determine what charges might be appropriate to bring against a Maryland man who was videotaped tackling a federally protected pelican.

DAVIDSONVILLE, Md. (AP/WPTV) — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Monday they are in the process of filing two criminal charges against a man seen in a viral Internet video jumping on a state and federally protected pelican in the Florida Keys.

The Baltimore Sun reports Hunter Hardesty, of Davidsonville, Maryland, posted the video of the apparent attack online on Thursday.

Commission officer and spokesman Bobby Dube says Hardesty enticed the pelican and then jumped on it. He says authorities are considering possible animal cruelty charges.

The video shows Hardesty leaning over the water near the edge of a harbor that's geotagged to the Florida Keys. It shows him then jumping off the harbor and landing on top of the pelican, launching a scuffle punctuated by the laughter of onlookers.

The bird then slapped Hardesty across the face with its beak and fled.

“I shared the anger of those who contacted me regarding this video,” Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay said Monday. “This type of behavior — the abuse of animals — will not be tolerated on my watch and I know our law enforcement partners at the FWC and at the federal level share that mindset. I would like to thank those who quickly brought to this my attention and to the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office and the FWC who responded quickly.”