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Karma! Man tackles protected pelican in viral video before being tracked down across state lines

Karma! Man tackles protected pelican in viral video before being tracked down across state lines
A Maryland man was arrested for animal cruelty after he posted a viral video of him jumping on top of a protected species of pelican in Florida, sparking disgust and a manhunt.

William Hunter Hardesty shared a video to Facebook showing him luring a brown pelican towards him at a Key West Harbour last week. Hardesty then jumps on top of the bird, plunging it underwater before grabbing it in both arms. The pelican appears spooked and doesn’t move until a woman shouts at Hardesty to get out of the water. It then bites its tormentor in the face before flying off.

“Next time ima eat him for dinner!!” Hardesty commented on the video. “Wonder what they taste like.”

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission put out a warrant for his arrest after authorities in Florida and Maryland received numerous complaints from concerned citizens who were among the 134,000 people who watched the video.

"I shared the anger of those who contacted me regarding this video," Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay said before his arrest. "This type of behavior — the abuse of animals — will not be tolerated on my watch.”

He was arrested by Maryland state troopers at an Ocean City hotel on Friday and will be charged with animal cruelty to migratory birds and the intentional feeding of pelicans.

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The brown pelican is a protected species under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Florida state law.

Hardesty “is currently being held as a fugitive in the Worcester County Detention Center,” Maryland State Police said in a statement, and he will be extradited back to Florida.

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