KEY WEST, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - Charges have been filed against a Maryland man who was videotaped tackling a federally protected pelican.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), with the consultation of the Monroe County State Attorney's Office, said that they have filed charges against 31-year-old William Hunter Hardesty. The charges are for conservation violations regarding brown pelicans committed on or about March 3rd, 2019 in Key West, Florida.
Hardesty is reportedly being charged with the following:
- One count of violation of Florida Administrative Code 68A-4.001(5) – Intentional Feeding of Pelicans, a second-degree misdemeanor.
- Two counts of violation of Florida Administrative Code 68A-16.001(1)(a) – Migratory Birds: Adoption of Federal Statutes and Regulations (MBTA), a second-degree misdemeanor.
- Two counts of violation of Florida Statute 828.12 – Animal Cruelty, a first-degree misdemeanor.
The FWC said via a Facebook post that they are working with police in Maryland and other state agencies to secure Hardesty's arrest.
Hunter Hardesty posted the video of the apparent attack online last week. He is seen leaning over the water near the edge of a harbor that's geotagged to the Florida Keys. He then jumps off the harbor and landing on top of the pelican, launching a scuffle punctuated by the laughter of onlookers.
Hardesty also posted a Facebook status saying that "I'm so hungry I could eat a pelican!!!"
On Monday, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office posted on Facebook that charges are to be filed against Hardesty. “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," Sheriff Ramsay said in a Facebook post.