Maryland State Police arrested a man Friday who posted a video of himself manhandling and jumping on top of a brown pelican at a Key West marina earlier this month.
The video of William Hunter Hardesty, 31, trying to capture the migratory bird at the Key West Historic Seaport went viral and also caught the attention of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the State Attorney’s Office.
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Florida investigators were not amused, and the FWC issued a 10-page warrant for his arrest on charges of animal cruelty to a migratory bird and intentionally feeding a pelican.
Hardesty was apparently so proud of the recognition he got for the March 5 stunt that he bragged about it this week to some people staying at the same Ocean City, Maryland, hotel where he was staying.
Those folks called the police, and Maryland troopers arrested him at the hotel at 9 a.m., according to a Maryland State Police press release.
In the video, which Hardesty posted on his Facebook page, he is seen luring the federally and state-protected bird to the dock with a fish. As the pelican gets close, Hardesty jumps on the bird in the water.
He then emerges from the water with two hands around the bird, which snapped at Hardesty’s face with its bill before flying away.
Maryland police will send Hardesty to the Keys where he will be booked into county jail on an $80,000 bond.