KEY WEST, FLA. (WSVN) - A Key West vacation turned into an animal abuse investigation after a video appearing to show a man mistreating a pelican went viral.
The clip shared to Facebook shows the man pretending to feed a pelican near a dock. When the bird opened its mouth, the man could be seen jumping into the water, appearing to land on the bird.
His friends could be heard laughing as he is seen grabbing the stunned bird before it bit his face and flew away.
Sarah Curry from Pelican Harbor Seabird Station said, “It’s really disappointing, sad and frustrating.”
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office investigators said the man also posted a photo of him holding what appears to be an endangered Key deer.
Yaritza Acosta from Pelican Harbor Seabird Station said, “It’s pretty crazy. I don’t know why somebody would think that would be OK to do that to a protected species, so it’s very kind of sad and angry feelings mixed inside.”
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials said they are investigating the social media posts.
Acosta said, “The guy hit that pelican pretty hard. He could have winded him when he went under. He could have taken some water in the throat and could have aspirated on that, or there could have been some ruptures to his air sacs. Luckily, it looked like he was able to fly away, but he could have had some bruising or minor things. What he did was illegal. He shouldn’t be messing with the pelicans in any way.”
No charges have been filed yet, but according to MSO, the FWC is in the process of preparing two warrants: one for animal cruelty and another for molestation of a protected species.
If you have any information on this man’s whereabouts, call Monroe County Crime Stoppers at 800-346-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward.
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