Maryland man arrested for jumping on pelican in Florida Keys


UPDATE (4:35pm) — William Hunter Hardesty has been arrested by police in Maryland after they received tips from the public. He is awaiting extradition back to Florida. 

The Maryland man who was recorded jumping onto a pelican in the Florida Keys is now facing charges, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The FWC says they have charged 31-year-old William Hunter Hardesty for conservation violations of a brown pelican in Key West. FWC officials say they are working with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and authorities in Maryland to secure his arrest.

The incident happened earlier this month. Hardesty posted a video showing a man jumping off a pier onto a brown pelican. While in the water, the man is seen holding onto the pelican, who attempts to bite him before flying away. 

The video, which has not been taken down off of Facebook as of this writing, has surpassed 130,000 views.

Hardesty, who the FWC says is the man seen jumping onto the pelican, has commented on the video, saying, “Next time ima eat him for dinner!! Wonder what they taste like.”

The FWC says Hardesty could face up to a year and 60 days in jail and up to a $1,500 fine for the following charges: 

  • One count of violation of Florida Administrative Code 68A-4.001(5) – Intentional Feeding of Pelicans, a second-degree misdemeanor
  • Two counts of violation of Florida Administrative Code 68A-16.001(1)(a) – Migratory Birds: Adoption of Federal Statutes and Regulations (MBTA), a second-degree misdemeanor
  • Two counts of violation of Florida Statute 828.12 – Animal Cruelty, a first-degree misdemeanor

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