The Maryland man who allegedly posted video of himself jumping on a federally protected pelican in Florida has been handcuffed in Maryland.
William Hunter Hardesty, 31, reportedly shared a video that appears to show him in the Florida Keys, leaning over the edge of a harbor with something in his hands. He then seems to jump off the harbor and land on top of the pelican. A scuffle ensues, and onlookers laugh. The bird then smacks the man across the face with its beak and flies away.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesperson Officer Bob Duke had said the animal in the video appears to be a brown pelican, The Baltimore Sun reported. Those birds are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Florida state law, which ban even feeding the animal.
“We never want to harm wildlife, and that's what he was doing. He was enticing the pelican and then jumped on it," Duke had told the Sun.
Maryland State Police reportedly received tips that a man staying in Ocean City, Maryland, seemed to be the man in the viral video. The tipsters added that the man had allegedly told them so much was true.
State police arrested Hardesty Friday morning in Ocean City on a warrant from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission that charges him with animal cruelty, The Sun reported. He is being held in Maryland as a fugitive, according to police.
Hardesty allegedly continued to post on social media about the run in with the pelican, according to the Sun. The paper reported that he allegedly started a GoFundMe campaign to raise $20,000, pledging to donate half the money to the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center. However, the page didn't indicate what the other half of of the money was for.
Officials in Florida have been notified of Hardesty's arrest and are proceeding with his extradition.