'Idiot' Jumps on Pelican, Now Faces Charges

Maryland's Hunter Hardesty posted now-viral video involving protected species
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2019 10:25 AM CDT
A pair of brown pelicans head for San Francisco Bay on June 29, 2018, in Sausalito, Calif.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

(Newser) – Questionable content often finds its way onto Facebook, but viral videos of humans attacking animals generally don't go over well. A Maryland man is finding that out after he posted a clip Thursday from Key West, Fla., in which he's seen apparently luring a pelican over to the side of a dock with what looks to be a piece of fish, then leaping into the water and on top of the pelican. The man, identified by the Baltimore Sun as Hunter Hardesty of Davidsonville, Md., holds the pelican for a few seconds, while someone can be heard laughing off camera (ostensibly the person taping the incident); a woman can also be heard yelling at him while he still has a grip on the bird: "Excuse me, if you don't get out of there right now I'm going to call security." The pelican then nips at the man's face and swims out of his reach.

The Miami Herald notes Hardesty doesn't seem sorry for his alleged actions, and "even seems to enjoy the attention." The next day he posted, "The book blowin up on a Friday !! Sheesh"; on Sunday he joked, "I'm so hungry I could eat a pelican!!!" He may not be laughing for long, and not just because of the angry comments under his posts: A rep for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, who notes the incident seems to have taken place at the Key West Historic Seaport, says the bird was a brown pelican, a protected species that isn't allowed to be fed or touched. On Monday, Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay announced "good news regarding the idiot who jumped on the pelican," noting that FWC was getting a warrant for two criminal charges, and that the feds are "investigating him for molesting" a key deer, also protected. (Read more pelican stories.)

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