A man on vacation may be facing federal charges for his part in attacking a protected pelican. The man can be seen luring the bird over with a fish and then jumping on it, submerging the bird underwater for a short period of time. The man then added the video to his Facebook page which led to outrage from many.
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On March 7th, Hunter Hardesty from Davidsonville, Maryland, was in Key West, Florida, on vacation. During this time, Hardesty uploaded a short video of him holding a small fish in his hands as he approaches the water where the federally protected brown pelican was swimming.
As the bird got closer, Hardesty jumps on the bird’s head, wrestling with it in the water. Thankfully, one woman can be heard off-screen telling Hardesty and his friend who is recording the attack, “If you don’t get out of there right now I’m going to call security. Knock this party off right now.”
The bird, which looked visibly distressed, used Hardesty’s momentary distraction to break free and then proceeded to clap its beak down on Hardesty’s face until he released him. The pelican was then seen flying off to another area.
To the surprise of nobody, Hardesty received a lot of flack and ire from his social media video. One commentator on his video wrote: “Can you spell J-A-I-L ????.” Another person wrote, “Idiot!! I do hope you serve time. I also hope that smack in the face left a mark … a BIG one.”
According to the Daily Mail, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is speaking with the state’s attorney to determine what, if any, charges Hardesty will face. “We never want to harm wildlife, and that’s what he was doing,” Bobby Dube, a spokesperson for the commission, said. “He was enticing the pelican and then jumped on it.”
The Baltimore Sun reported the brown pelican is protected under a federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Florida state law. Under this law, you cannot feed or touch this endangered bird; Hardesty did both.