NAPLES, Fla. — Wildlife investigators are offering a $20,000 reward as they search for the people behind the slayings of two dolphins along the Florida coast.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement, Florida wildlife biologists found a dolphin in Naples last week that “was fatally wounded from what appeared to be a bullet and/or a sharp object.” Another dead dolphin was discovered in Pensacola Beach “with a bullet in its left side,” the agency said in a news release Tuesday.
The deaths came nine months after officials discovered another dead dolphin with a puncture wound on Captiva Island, according to the release.
“Biologists believe these cases may stem from humans feeding wild dolphins,” the agency said in a statement. “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. You can prevent harm to wild dolphins by not feeding or attempting to feed them.”
If you have information about the deaths, call NOAA at 1-800-853-1964.