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Shark-dragging case not easy to prove, former investigator says

Posted at 2:05 PM, Aug 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-04 04:36:44-04

Even as the investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission into a shark-dragging video continues many people online have voiced concern that charges haven’t already been filed against the three men on the boat.

Former FWC investigator and regional director, Chuck Collins, said it’s not as easy to prove a case as many in the public think.

“It can be really difficult and sometimes it’s not difficult,” Collins said. “In this case it is. This was a 10-second video on the internet. You can tell when they put it on the internet, but when was it actually filmed? Was it a year, two years before? Because we have a statute of limitations on our laws and even a first-degree misdemeanor under cruelty to animals would only be a 2-year statute of limitations.”

The captain on the boat of the shark dragging video had been under investigation before by the FWC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife. In 2015 the organizations looked into pictures of the captain holding pelicans and other protected animals.  

“That’s great evidence,” Collins said while looking at the pictures of the captain. “But we still don’t know when this occurred. That’s the issue here. A lot of people don’t understand what it takes behind the scenes.

The 2015 case was dropped for a lack of evidence in January 2017.

“As much as you wanna get the bad guys, if you can’t prove it, you don’t have a case,” Collins said.

In response to the shark dragging video, which is still under investigation, Gov. Rick Scott sent a letter to FWC saying he wants to make sure that current regulations strictly prohibit “such inhumane acts.”

FWC Chairman Brian Yablonski responded saying: “I, my fellow Commissioners, and the men and women of the FWC, who are dedicated to conserving Florida’s precious natural resources for future generations, could not agree more with Governor Scott’s powerful words. Each and every member of our agency is disgusted by the behavior shown in the video. We are eager to move forward with the Governor's suggestion to review and strengthen regulations as necessary to help deter this type of behavior in the future. These individuals do not represent the sentiments and conscientious actions of millions of conservation-minded anglers around the world.”

As more images of the captain emerge on social media, many wonder when enough will be enough.

“If they truly are bad guys, they will continue their behavior pattern,” Collins said. “Sooner or later they will get caught.”

Meanwhile, many on social media are calling for the boycott of the new MTV show 'Siesta Key'. One of the cast members is friends with the men involved in the shark-dragging video. Pictures of the cast member abusing animals have appeared online as well. The premiere party for 'Siesta Key' was canceled due to death threats against the cast member.