Video of man jumping on pelican in Key West causes online uproar

Monroe County Sheriff's Office investigating incident

By Tim Swift - Local10.com Digital Editor

KEY WEST, Fla. - A video of Maryland man jumping onto a pelican in the Florida Keys has gone viral on social media, sparking calls for the man to be charged with animal cruelty.

Adam Lindhart, a spokesman for the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, said his agency and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were investigating the incident but no arrests have been made. The agencies were also investigating another post that showed the man posing with what appears to be a key deer inside a home, Lindhart said.

A number of Florida Keys residents have contacted Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay about the video and photo, Lindhart said. Ramsay called the posts "very upsetting."

The video shows Hunter Hardesty, of Davidsonville, 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 animal bit him.

"Yea they bite hard !!!" Hardesty wrote when he posted the video on Facebook on Thursday.

It's unclear where the incident took place, but Hardesty's post is tagged as Key West.

Key deer are protected by federal law.

The post has more than 1,000 comments, with many posters condemning his actions. 

"I'll be glad when you are behind bars. You are a sorry waste of genetic material," one person wrote in one of the more milder comments on the post.

Hardesty, who has since returned to Maryland, appeared to be taking the criticism in stride. 

"The book blowin up on a Friday !! Sheesh," Hardesty wrote.

Lindhart announced Monday that the FWC is in the process of preparing a warrant on two criminal charges -- animal cruelty and molestation of a protected species. 

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