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Man sentenced to 90 days in jail for jumping on pelican in Florida Keys

William Hardesty, 31, also fined $1,000, to serve a year of probation

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KEY WEST, Fla. – A Maryland man who was found guilty of two counts of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and two counts of animal cruelty was sentenced to 90 days in the Monroe County Detention Center.

William Hardesty, 31, who posted a video on Facebook of himself jumping on a pelican March 5 in the Florida Keys, will receive a 40-day credit for time served. He was also fined $1,000 and will serve a year of probation upon his release from jail. 

The video that was posted to Facebook the first week of March shows Hardesty, of Riva, Maryland, luring a pelican toward a dock with a fish. As the pelican approached, Hardesty jumped from the dock and grabbed the pelican in the water. The pelican struggled with Hardesty to get free and at one point the bird bit him.

"Yeah, they bite hard!!!" Hardesty wrote on Facebook.

The posting was met with widespread criticism and was followed by Hardesty posting that he might want to eat a pelican and was considering getting a pelican tattoo. 

Hardesty's attorney asked Judge Mark Wilson for a sentence of jail time served, but Assistant State Attorney Ryan Maher requested Hardesty be sentenced to six months in jail followed by a year of probation because of the lack of remorse for his actions, as well as his lack of respect for nature and respect for Florida laws. 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Monroe County Sheriff's Office are also investigating another post that showed Hardesty posing with what appears to be a Key deer inside a home, authorities said.

About the Author:

Amanda Batchelor is the managing editor for Local10.com.