A juvenile has admitted to shooting a bottlenose dolphin with a hunting arrow in Florida state waters, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement.
The dolphin was found dead more than a week after being shot in Orange Beach, Ala.
NOAA federal agents requested assistance from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Escambia County Sherriff’s Office. Together they obtained written confessions and seized the bow. Since the case involves a juvenile, NOAA said it cannot release any further information.
NOAA federal agents said media attention and tips helped them find the person responsible for this incident.
Contributions for the $24,000 reward came from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, Alabama Gulf Coast Reef and Restoration Foundation, Coastal Alabama Business Chamber, Cobalt/Cosmos Restaurants, Reel Surprise Fishing Charters, Gulf Chrysler, and the Coastal Conservation Association, the City of Orange Beach and one private citizen.
People can help prevent future harm to wild dolphins by not feeding or attempting to feed them. Dolphins fed by people learn to associate people with food, which puts dolphins and people in potentially harmful situations.
NOAA has not received tips on the pregnant dolphin shot and killed on Choctawhatchee Bay in Miramar Beach just before Thanksgiving. Anyone with information on that incident is encouraged to call NOAA’s enforcement office in Niceville at 850-729-8628 or the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964 as soon as possible. Tips may be left anonymously and the reward, offered by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation, stands at $2,500 for information leading to arrest and prosecution.
Harassing, harming, killing or feeding wild dolphins is prohibited under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. 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.
To report a stranded, injured or sick dolphin, call 1-877-WHALE-HELP (1-877-942-5343).