Police say a Palm Bay, Fla., man had an unusual — and illegal — method of dealing with a raccoon on his property: trapping it and burning it alive, Florida Today reported.
Now 88-year-old Ezra James faces an animal cruelty charge in Brevard County, according to jail records.
Police said they were called to the man’s Palm Bay home at around 11 a.m. Thursday, where they say James had trapped a raccoon in a metal cage, poured gasoline on it and lit it on fire, Palm Bay Daily reported.
“The raccoon was still alive, completely burned, the skin was pulled back from the feet from the burns,” an officer who arrived at the scene wrote in a report obtained by the paper.
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A unidentified neighbor was the one who contacted police, according WKMG. James was upset that she had reported him and told the station he would not apologize to neighbors.
“My business is my business. I don’t take my business to strangers,” he told the station, calling the neighbor “wicked.”
He was taken to jail and posted a $2,000 bond, after which he spoke with reporters about what happened.
He told WKMG and CNN he wanted to kill the raccoon for eating mangoes from his yard, and because he was scared it might give him rabies.
“I throw some gasoline on him and light a match,” he told the station.
Officers put down the raccoon when they found it burned but still alive, Florida Today reported.
“I can’t stand what people do to animals anymore. They need to live too,” James’ neighbor Nancy Gill told WKMG.
In Florida, nuisance animals like raccoons can be captured with traps or snares or killed with a gun in daylight hours, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The commission says captured animals “must be released legally or euthanized humanely” within 24 hours.
James told WMKG and CNN he would not be trapping raccoons again.
“I’m not going to catch no more because I learned my lesson. No, I’m done with that,” he told the station.