$20K reward offered after dolphins found shot, stabbed off Florida's Gulf Coast

Clay Curtis
February 13, 2020

Within the same week, another dolphin was recovered by the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge with a bullet in its left side along Pensacola Beach.

PHOTO: On Feb. 11, NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement offered 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.

An investigation into these senseless deaths remains ongoing.

The discovery, made in late January, came just after another dead dolphin with a similar wound was found off Naples, Florida.

"The puncture wound indicates this dolphin might have been in a begging posture when he was stabbed", the NOAA said in a July press release.

At present, officials believe that all three cases were related to humans feeding wild dolphins in the area, an act that over time causes the mammals to associate food with humans.

According to the press release, at least 29 dolphins have died in the southeastern United States since 2002, with evidence that they were shot or impaled.

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Since 2002, at least 29 dolphins have died in US, with evidence that their deaths stemmed from a gunshot or stab wound.

"You can prevent harm to wild dolphins by not feeding or attempting to feed them".

"The dolphin off of Naples and the one from Captiva a year ago were likely in what we called begging posture", Stacey Horstman, an expert on bottlenose dolphins with the NOAA, told the Fort Myers News-Press.

Anyone with information that can lead investigators to the people responsible is being asked to call NOAA's Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964.

Anybody with information regarding these cases are encouraged to contact the NOAA and tips may be left anonymously.

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.

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