Three Florida dolphins were brutally slain in recent months, and authorities want those responsible found and punished.
Late last week, biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found a dolphin dead from a bullet or sharp object off Naples, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. That same week, Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge experts found another dolphin with a bullet in its left side along Pensacola beach.
In May, a dolphin was found dead with a puncture wound in its head off Captiva Island.
The string of dolphin deaths has NOAA offering $20,000 for information that leads to civil penalty or criminal convictions for those responsible. Call the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at 800-853-1964. Tips may be left anonymously.
Since 2002, at least 29 dolphins have been shot, by bullets and arrows, and impaled. Harassing, hunting, killing or feeding wild dolphins is illegal, and those caught may face up to $100,000 in fines and a year in jail, according to NOAA.
Biologists believe the recent cases of dolphin deaths stem from people feeding the mammals. Dolphins begin to associate humans and boats with food and then put themselves in dangerous situations to get it.
That is why wildlife experts tell the public not to feed alligators, raccoons and other Florida wildlife, invasive or native. Wild animals that learn to depend on humans can be dangerous.
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