NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is offering a reward of up to $20,000 for information that leads to a civil penalty or criminal conviction of the person or persons responsible for the recent deaths of two dolphins in Florida.
Biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission discovered a dead dolphin off Naples, Florida late last week. The animal was fatally wounded from what appeared to be a bullet and/or a sharp object. Within the same week, Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge experts recovered a dolphin with a bullet in its left side along Pensacola Beach, Florida.
Since 2002, at least 29 dolphins, including the recent two, have been stranded in the southeastern United States after they were shot by guns or arrows, or impaled with objects like screwdrivers and fishing spears. Four incidents have occurred within the last year.
Injuries, whether accidental or intentional can result from humans feeding wild dolphins. Dolphins fed by people learn to associate people and boats with food, which can put them in harmful situations. Dolphins may suffer fatal impacts from boat strikes, entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear, and acts of intentional harm like these.
The United States Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (MMPA) bans harassing, hunting, killing or feeding wild dolphins. Violating the MMPA may result in civil penalties up to $11,000 or criminal penalties up to $100,000 plus one year imprisonment.
Dolphin Project first reported on this in 2012, when we learned about dolphins being murdered along Florida’s Gulf Coast.
In addition to the federal reward money, Dolphin Project is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to a civil penalty or criminal conviction of the person or persons responsible for the recent deaths of two dolphins in Florida.
NOAA officials are seeking information from anyone who may have details about these incidents. Please call the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at (800) 853-1964. Tips may be left anonymously.
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Photo credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Sources used in this blog