Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating after a video went viral of a raccoon on a boat.
The video shows boaters yelling and cursing at the animal and cornering it before it eventually falls into the water.
A person who saw the video on the Facebook page where it was originally posted took a screen recording and shared it on their Facebook page. That person gave us permission to show it.
Warning: This video may be disturbing to some viewers.
FWC released the following statement on the video:
The FWC was alerted to a video by a tip from the public on May 8 which is circulating on social media sites, showing a group of individuals with a raccoon on their vessel.
The FWC takes this very seriously and is currently investigating this incident. Anyone with additional information about this incident is asked to contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 or Tip@MyFWC.com . Individuals can remain anonymous.
It is still too early to speculate as to what violations took place in this incident, however, the FWC would like to state that we believe these vile acts of animal cruelty have no place in our state or anywhere else.
Thomas Cope, who is a personal injury attorney in Clearwater, admitted to taking the video and released this statement:
I apologize for my actions on the boat earlier this week. I sincerely wish there was some way I could have safely returned to shore to release the raccoon.
The fully-grown male raccoon had hidden away on the boat for several hours and didn’t come out until we were well offshore. The animal was running around the boat hissing and growling, making it impossible for me or my friend to drive the boat. Knowing raccoons can be rabid and unpredictable, the only realistic option we could think of in that moment was to get the raccoon off the boat.
I feel bad for the animal and I’m sorry for what I did.