Two wild dolphins were found shot, stabbed and dead by police in Florida, and a $20,000 reward is being offered to catch the perpetrator.
The first dolphin was found right off the Naples coast a week ago with a bullet wound found on its face. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said that it also appeared to have wounds from a ‘sharp object.’
Experts from the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge said that the other one was found 600 miles away on Pensacola Beach, also with a bullet wound on its left side.
Since 2002, there have been at least 29 dolphins in the south eastern US that were shot by guns or arrows, or stabbed with sharp objects and fishing spears.
In 2019 alone, four incidents were recorded, with one found dead from a fatal puncture wound on its head last May.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) made a statement saying they are offering a reward for information that leads to a civil penalty or criminal conviction of the person or persons responsible’ for these two recent deaths.
Biologists believe the reason behind these deaths is humans feeding the wild dolphins, so they end up associating people and boats as a source of food – which puts them in harm’s way. Dolphins can suffer fatal impacts when being hit by a boat, when they come close.
“You can prevent harm to wild dolphins by not feeding or attempting to feed them,” said a NOAA spokesperson.
Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act – hunting, killing, feeding or harassing wild dolphins is against the law.
Violators can be charged and are punishable by law of up to $100,000 in fines, or a maximum of one year jail time.
NOAA continues to enforce these prohibitions all over the country, and last month, they charged a Kansas man $1,250 for feeding a dolphin while vacationing in Florida.
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