FLORIDA (WXXV) — NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is offering a reward of up to $20,000 for information that leads to a civil penalty or criminal conviction of the person or persons responsible for the recent deaths of two dolphins in Florida.
Biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission discovered a dead dolphin off Naples, Florida, late last week. The animal was fatally wounded from what appeared to be a bullet and/or a sharp object.
Within the same week, Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge experts recovered a dolphin with a bullet in its left side along Pensacola Beach, Florida.
NOAA officials are seeking information from anyone who may have details about these incidents. Please call the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at (800) 853-1964. Tips may be left anonymously.
Biologists believe these cases may stem from humans feeding wild dolphins. Dolphins fed by people 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.
NOAA says you can prevent harm to wild dolphins by not feeding or attempting to feed them.