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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Criminal charges are being filed against a Maryland man who was videotaped tackling a federally protected pelican in the Florida Keys.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission informed Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay on Monday they are in the process of filing two criminal charges against Hunter Hardesty, seen in a viral video jumping on the pelican.
Hardesty posted the video on his Facebook page on Thursday. It was tagged Key West.
The video shows him with a fish luring the pelican near him as he stands on a dock. Then, he leaps directly on top of the bird and into the water, surfacing with the bird in both hands.
Someone on the dock threatens to call the police, and he lets the bird go, but not before the pelican snaps at his face with its large bill.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office say they received multiple tips from citizens and residents in and out of the Florida Keys since the video went viral.
They say Hardesty will be charged with animal cruelty and molestation of a protected species.
There are also other pictures and videos of Hardesty with other animals on his social media page including a Key Deer, another federally protected animal, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Those pictures and videos are part of the ongoing investigation.
“I shared the anger of those who contacted me regarding this video,” Sheriff Ramsay said on 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.”
The investigation is ongoing and more charges could be filed.