A Maryland man is under fire on Facebook after posting a video that shows him jumping on top of a pelican and holding the bird in his hands while he smiles widely and a friend off camera laughs at the stunt.
On his Facebook page, Hunter Hardesty, of Davidsonville, Maryland, offers no apologies — or explanations — for why he attacked the pelican, which he lured to the dock with what appears to be a small fish. He even seems to enjoy the attention.
The bird tried to fight back, even nipping him in the face, the video shows.
He commented on the thread filled with critics and several people who found the video amusing: “Next time ima eat him for dinner!! Wonder what they taste like.”
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Hardesty posted on Friday, the day after he posted the video at 4:50 p.m.: “The book blowin’ up on a Friday!! Sheesh.”
The video has been watched more than 20,000 times as of Saturday morning and generated 425 comments, many of which are profane tirades aimed at Hardesty.
Several people said they reported Hardesty to the local police and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Hardesty did not respond immediately to a Facebook message for further comment. But Monroe Sheriff Rick Ramsay said Saturday that he contacted FWC throughout the day on this case.
“He will be held accountable for this attack on wildlife,” Ramsay posted on his Facebook page. “Thanks to everyone who provided help with the video, identification and where he lives.”
FWC will be taking the lead on the case, sheriff spokesman Adam Linhardt said Sunday. “The sheriff also has received information regarding previous violations,” Linhardt said. “One of them involves [Hardesty] possibly holding a Key deer.”
Facebook users took to Hardesty’s page to tell him off.
“You’re an idiot, Florida fish and game has already been contacted. They will be in touch shortly you moron,” posted Chris M. Capps, of Key Largo.
“I am a huge bird lover and advocate,” wrote Deanna Graveline. “I will legit get it my car. .come capture u like so and rip your head off.”
The marina is unidentified in the video, but there were onlookers.
“If you don’t get out of there right now I’m going to call security,” a woman off camera tells Hardesty. “You guys, knock this party off now.”
Florida prohibits trying to even attract a pelican.
“The intentional feeding or the placement of food that attracts pelicans and modifies the natural behavior of the pelican so as to be detrimental to the survival or health of a local population is prohibited,” the rule states.
An earlier version of this story gave the wrong employment information for Hunter Hardesty. He last worked for JW Frew Electric four years ago, according to the company.