LAKE MARY, Fla. - After a video surfaced late last year that authorities said appeared to show a man beating a shark with a hammer, one Florida community is making it clear they have no tolerance for such actions.
That man hasn't been charged or fined for the alleged incident, but a newly-drafted ordinance by the City of Indian Harbour Beach would make it easier to punish anyone who does something like this.
"There's no place for that in our community," said Indian Harbour Beach City Manager John Coffey. "We knew we had to do something."
The alleged incident which prompted the ordinance is said to have happened in December. A woman and her co-worker were setting up for a wedding when they saw a man attacking a shark right in front of the Harbour House Oceanfront Venue.
"My co-worker and I were just stunned to see that this was happening right in front of our property," said Faith Madsen.
She said she went out to see what the man had caught — he reeled in a five to 6 six-foot shark and pulled it all the up to the sand, removed the hook, took a hammer, and began to beat the shark over the head.
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Indian Harbor Beach Police said the security camera footage shows two men catching a shark while fishing, bringing it to shore, and hitting the shark over the head with a hammer repeatedly, before dragging it back into the water.
The ordinance would expand the prohibition against fishing – including shark fishing – 150 feet north and south of the two beach parks. It would also add an enforcement tool for a civil citation that escalates for a repeat offender.
"We're very confident the community will rally around this new ordinance and make sure we stop it before it, the person, gets the future shark anywhere close to the shore," Coffey explained.
The Florida Fish and Wild Conservation Commission continues to investigate the incident. According to Florida statute, a person who abuses or kills any animal in a cruel manner or commits animal cruelty can be charged with a misdemeanor that could result in prison time and thousands of dollars in fines.