Thousands of people have signed a petition and posted demands to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website to arrest three men who filmed a video showing them dragging a shark behind a speeding boat.
Florida Governor Rick Scott has also now stepped in. He’s sent a letter stating that after watching the “disturbing video” showing a “hateful act,” to take action.
The letter to Commission Chairman Brian Yablonski from Scott says:
The brutality and disrespect shown to this animal is sickening and I am sure that you share my outrage over these individuals’ heinous actions.”
The commission’s Facebook page has received hundreds of comments.
One commentator Bill Cashman wrote:
I am extremely disappointed in the FWC. Michael Wenzel and his buddies have posted numerous photos on social media for several years now showing them abusing pelicans, spotted eagle rays, tarpon, Goliath grouper, and other animals. Yet these grown men are still allowed to have a fishing license, captains permit, boat, and can continue abusing animals as demonstrated by their latest shark dragging video. As the authorities in charge we are counting on you to put a stop to this activity and start protecting our precious wildlife.
The individuals have been identified by authorities and on social media, commentators say the men are the sons of a high-profile lawyer and two local politicians.
The commissions says:
We want to thank YOU! An overwhelming number of calls, emails, social media messages and posts have been received in response to our request for information about a disturbing video of individuals dragging a shark behind a boat. Our Division of Law Enforcement has now identified the individuals in the video, and are currently conducting an investigation into this incident. Since the investigation is active, we can’t confirm the identities of the individuals, and it is too early to speculate as to what, if any, violations took place in this incident. However, we would like to state that the lack of respect shown in this video for our precious natural resources is disheartening and disturbing, and is not representative of conservation-minded anglers around the world.
The video was sent to a Miami charter fisherman name Mark Quartino who has killed hundreds of captured sharks. But Quartino says he was shocked by the brutality he saw in the video and he shared it on social media.
“I was horrified,” Quartiano told CNN. “I’ve been shark fishing for 50 years and I’ve never seen a disrespect for an animal my entire career that was that evil.”
The video has more than 280,000 views on the Facebook page for Quartiano’s business and has attracted more than 1,700 comments, many of them expressing outrage.
A petition has been started on Change.org with 58,000 signatures so far demanding the men be ordered to serve 1,000 community service hours under the supervision of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
They will use that time to teach these men to treat our Florida wildlife with respect.
Scheduling may involve either 125 days lasting 8 hours long, or as determined the the FWC, given that it equals 1,000 hours and is completed within a year.
Wenzel and his accomplices will pay for any costs associated. This may include hiring outside trainers and educators, on-the-clock hours, gasoline expenses, etc.
We also demand that everyone in this video has their fishing licenses revoked permanently.
We the people also request that Florida lawmakers pass a bill making this kind of animal torture a second degree felony.
We also demand that these people be punished for their crimes of animal abuse. This punishment should consist of jail time in addition to community service.