Two dolphins are found shot and stabbed in Florida: Officials offer $20,000 reward to catch a suspect
- The first was found dead off the coast of Naples with a bullet wound to its face
- Another washed up on Pensacola Beach last week with a bullet in its left side
- At least 29 dolphins have been attacked with guns, arrows or spears since 2002
A $20,000 reward is being offered after two wild dolphins were found dead with bullet and stab wounds in Florida.
The first was found off the coast of Naples last week with what appeared to be a bullet wound in its face.
It also had wounds from ‘a sharp object’, biologists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.
The second was found with a bullet in its left side along Pensacola Beach, 600 miles away, by experts from the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge.
At least 29 dolphins have been stranded with evidence of being shot by guns or arrows, or impaled with objects such as fishing spears in the south eastern US since 2002.
A dolphin was found off the coast of Naples last week by biologists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission with what appeared to be a bullet wound
A second dolphin was found with a bullet in its left side along Pensacola Beach by experts from the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge
Four incidents have occurred within the last year and one was found dead with a fatal puncture wound to its head in May last year.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said it was offering a reward ‘for information that leads to a civil penalty or criminal conviction of the person or persons responsible’ for the deaths.
Biologists believe these cases may stem from humans feeding wild dolphins as the animals learn to associate people and boats with food which can put them in harmful situations.
Dolphins may suffer fatal impacts from boat strikes, entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear, and acts of intentional harm like these.
An NOAA spokesperson said: ‘You can prevent harm to wild dolphins by not feeding or attempting to feed them.’
Harassing, hunting, killing or feeding wild dolphins is prohibited under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Violations can be prosecuted either civilly or criminally and are punishable by up to $100,000 in fines and up to one year in jail per violation.
The NOAA says it continues to actively enforce these prohibitions and last month a Kansas man was fined $1,250 for feeding a dolphin while in Florida on vacation.