The discovery of two dead dolphins injured in fatal gunfire or stabbing in Florida in recent weeks has appealed for help from federal authorities, who have offered rewards for information on those who killed the animal.
Biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found a male dolphin on January 5th from Naples. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries On Wednesday. The bullet or sharp object appeared to have killed the dolphin, the agency said. A photo of the animal showed a large, deep gash in his throat.
That same week, crews from Panna Coast Wildlife Refuge near Pensacola found another male dolphin with a gunshot wound to the left side, lying on the beach.
Tracy Dunn Trie, who oversees the enforcement of NOAA’s Southeast Division on Wednesday, said the death was “one of the worst situations we’ve seen”. “The community is very difficult to solve without coming forward”
Officers are offering up to $ 20,000 in rewards for information that leads to civil penalties or criminal convictions in cases. Violations can result in fines of up to $ 100,000 and up to a year in jail Marine Mammal Protection Act, Which prohibits harassing, hunting, killing or feeding wild dolphins.
Biologists believe that recent deaths are the result of feeding human animals, which can help people learn to leave their guard around. And sometimes, fishermen were blamed for killing animals in retaliation for their capture.
“When feeding dolphins, their behavior changes. They will lose the normal alertness of people and boats, “said Stacey Horstman, NOAA’s bottleneck dolphin conservation coordinator. “The best advice is not to feed them, not to reach them. The seemingly harmless act of feeding dolphins can lead to damage and something like that.
Mrs Horstman added, “This area in southwest Florida and the Panhandle is a hot spot for feeding illegal dolphins”
At least 20 dolphins, including two recent ones, have been trapped in the southeastern United States since 2012, after being shot dead by guns or arrows or pierced with objects such as screwdrivers and fishing spears. The NOAA says a Kansas man was recently fined $ 1,250 for feeding dolphins while on vacation near Captiva Island, Fla., But many cases remain unresolved.
In May 2019, for example, A bottlenose dolphin It was found dead on the island of Kuptiva by a spear-like object on its head. And in July 2018, veterinarians received a shot at the lungs of a pregnant bottlenose dolphin washed up on a beach in Mississippi. Animal welfare and conservation advocates offered $ 11,500 in rewards to help settle the case, but that remains unresolved.
Bottlenose dolphins are not considered endangered or threatened in the United States, but they often live near the coast and are at risk of coastal development, environmental degradation and netting. More than 1,200 dolphins were washed off the Atlantic coast of France last year, for example, with many wounds indicating that they had died in a fishing net.