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Man Who Wrestled A Pelican In Video Stunt Is Now Suffering Consequences From Authorities

Hunter Hardesty/Facebook // MCSO - Florida Keys/Facebook

Why do people film themselves doing reckless things with no regard for the safety and well being of humans and animals alike?

That’s not an easy question to answer, and the latest tale of viral fame gone awry should serve as a lesson for us all.

Hunter Hardesty, a 31-year-old Marylander, has been charged with animal cruelty and molestation of a protected species by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission after he was filmed tackling and wrestling a pelican after using a fish to lure it in the water close to a dock at a Key West marina.

The 20-second-video can be seen below. You can clearly see the pelican attempting to escape. A woman can also be heard threatening to call the police.

Hardesty, what did that poor pelican do to you? Nothing, obviously. It merely existed. It was there! Isn’t that reason enough? /sarcasm

The video angered many, particularly in the time leading up to Hardesty’s arrest. Can you blame them?

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement via Facebook which read in part:

Sheriff Rick Ramsay received multiple tips from citizens and residents in and out of the Florida Keys since the video went viral on the Internet. Sheriff Ramsay shared that information with the FWC, who announced Monday were in the process of preparing a warrant on two criminal charges — animal cruelty and molestation of a protected species.

There are also other pictures and videos of the same suspect and other animals that have been posted on the Internet. Those pictures and videos are part of the ongoing investigation. One picture shows a man holding what appears to be a Key Deer. Key Deer and the pelican in the viral video are federally protected and federal law enforcement authorities told Sheriff Ramsay they are also investigating the suspect.

Criminal charges to be filed after pelican incident The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission informed...

Posted by MCSO - Florida Keys on Monday, March 11, 2019

Sheriff Ramsay himself condemned Hardesty’s actions and vowed to prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law.

“I shared the anger of those who contacted me regarding this video,” he said. 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. I would like to thank those who quickly brought to this my attention and to the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office and the FWC who responded quickly.”

An investigation is continuing into whether Hardesty harmed other animals after pictures surfaced on social media.

Ramsay says more charges could be filed.

And in case you haven’t figured this out yet: Don’t harass the local wildlife. It doesn’t pay.