According to the Baltimore Sun, a Maryland man is now under investigation following a disturbing video in which he jumps on a pelican floating in the water in the Florida Keys. Hunter Hardesty of Davidsonville posted the video to his Facebook account and appeared surprised that a wide array of readers condemned his harmful and juvenile conduct.
The video shows Hardesty leaning over to tempt the pelican with food and then jumping on the bird — driving it below the surface. When they both surface, Hardesty then manhandles the bird as others laugh in the background. The bird then snapped at Hardesty who let it go.
The investigative department of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating and hopefully there will be some sanction for this stupid and dangerous conduct.
The brown pelican is protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Florida state law. That includes a prohibition on feeding or molesting the birds. It would also seem that animal cruelty would be a possible charge.
For his part, Hardesty seemed to be clueless. On his posting, he exclaimed “Yea they bite hard !!!” Even after the outcry, Hardesty seemed to have no appreciation of how he was endangering the animal and acting like a toddler. Upon his return to Maryland, he wrote “The book blowin up on a Friday !! Sheesh,” Hardesty wrote.