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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A man who was videotaped tackling a federally protected pelican in the Florida Keys has been arrested in Maryland.
William Hunter Hardesty, 31, wanted on a warrant from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, was taken into custody at a hotel in Ocean City.
The video shows him using a fish to lure the pelican closer to 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.
Maryland State Police said they caught Hardesty after receiving a tip. Troopers were told by a concerned citizen that an individual at the hotel was bragging to them about being wanted for feeding and tackling a pelican in the Florida Keys.
Hardesty was taken into custody without incident. He has been charged with animal cruelty to migratory birds and the intentional feeding of pelicans.
After a bond hearing in front of a court commissioner, he is now awaiting extradition to Florida. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office was notified of the arrest and has initiated extradition proceedings.
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.