A child, identified only as a “juvenile” in news reports, has come forward to admit that they shot a bottlenose dolphin with a hunting arrow.
AL.com, reports that the young male dolphin was found dead in an Orange Beach, Alabama, bayou. A necropsy performed on the mammal indicated that the dolphin survived for about five days after being shot by a barbed hunting arrow. The dolphin died of an infection caused by the wound.
The razor tipped arrow, seen below, is commonly used to hunt deer and other animals, although they are not legal in all states.
According to a statement released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), agents from NOAA’s law enforcement division, along with Alabama and Florida wildlife conservation officials, as well as the Escambia County Sheriff’s office, worked together to identify the culprit. NOAA thanked members of the public who came forward with information about the case, that enabled them to obtain a written confession. Agents confiscated the bow that was used. Because the suspect is a juvenile, no other information is being made available.
In their press release, NOAA also thanked the organizations that contributed to the $24,000 reward offered for information in the case. Those included several area businesses, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, The Humane Society of the United States, and others, as well as one private citizen.
Dolphins and marine mammals are protected.
Bottlenose dolphins, and other marine mammals, are protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. That act makes it a crime to harass, harm, feed, or kill wild dolphins. Violators can face civil or criminal prosecution, with a fine of up to $100,000, and up to a year in jail, per violation. Because the suspect in this case is a juvenile, there is no word yet on what, if any, criminal charges may result.
According WPMI, NOAA says that no one should attempt to feed wild dolphins, because they learn to associate people with food. This causes the dolphins to remove both bait and catch from fishing gear. They then teach this behavior to their young. Frustration over dolphins taking bait and catch from both recreational and commercial fishing gear has caused an increase in incidents humans attacking dolphins.
Sadly, this is not the only recent case of someone killing a wild dolphin. Another case, along the Florida panhandle, remains unsolved. NOAA says they have received no tips surrounding the shooting of a pregnant dolphin that was found dead just before Thanksgiving, near Miramar, Florida. That dolphin had been shot with a handgun.
Anyone with information in that case is asked to call NOAA in Niceville, Fla., at 1-850-729-8628, or the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964.
Photo courtesy NOAA