Criminal charges are being filed against Hunter Hardesty for tackling a federally protected pelican in the Florida Keys.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission informed Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay of the two charges they plan to file against him, animal cruelty and molestation of a protected species.
The Maryland native was on vacation when he posted the video, tagging Key West and other social media accounts.
The footage shows him luring the pelican with a fish while standing on a dock. After getting the birds attention, Hardesty leaps on top of it and into the water, surfacing with it in both hands. The pelican then slaps him across the face with its beak and fled.
There are other videos of Hardesty pestering Key Deers, also a federally protected animal, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Those pictures and videos are part of the ongoing investigation.
“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." said Sheriff Ramsay said on Monday.