US authorities have arrested two males after a year-long investigation discovered that they had been those who allegedly manhandled and harassed federally protected Florida panther kittens and alligators.
On Tuesday, 13 February, Alfredo Lopez de Queralta and Javier Torres had been arrested on eight felony counts every of killing, injuring or possessing alligators or eggs with out authority and eight counts of misdemeanour pertaining to dealing with or endangering threatened species, the Miami Herald reported.
A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fee (FWC) arrest report said that the alleged incident occurred within the Large Cypress Nationwide Protect in 2017 when Torres allegedly harassed the animals whereas Queralta filmed it. The pair had additionally allegedly posted the movies on YouTube and titled them “Pantera de la Florida con dos Cachorros”, which suggests “Florida Panther with two cubs” in English.
The alleged harassment movies of the animals had been first seen by the authorities in February 2017. They initially doubted their authentication however quickly the probe was launched.
One of many movies reveals Torres strolling by way of a wooded space after which crawling right into a panther’s den, whereas Queralta, who was behind the digicam, may be heard whispering “Pantera”. In the identical video, Torres may also be seen holding, kissing and cuddling two Florida panther kittens.
He then faces the digicam held by Queralta and says one kitten is male and the opposite feminine. “He poses with the kittens once more earlier than tossing them again into the den,” a report written by FWC investigator Man Gilbert says.
The report provides that officers with FWC and brokers with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nationwide Parks Service have additionally discovered various different movies on YouTube displaying Torres allegedly harassing animals. However most of them allegedly present him irritating alligators to various levels whereas Queralta data him.
“There are a number of movies of this exercise and so they present the carelessness of Torres’ behaviour. In a single video, he wades right into a swamp to seize an alligator, after which holds the alligator’s mouth open whereas he places his head contained in the mouth,” Gilbert claimed.
He added within the report that in some movies alligators may be seen making an attempt arduous to get away from Torres “however he continues to harass the animals by grabbing them, capturing them, sitting on prime of them and pulling them round”, the Miami Herald reported.
In keeping with the report, Torres “didn’t acquire any permits or licence that will enable him to own, seize, injure or kill American alligators from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fee or the US Fish and Wildlife Service or any portion of the Large Cypress Nationwide Protect”.
Florida panthers have been listed as an endangered species underneath federal regulation and people discovered harming them could also be sentenced to as much as one yr in jail and obtain a advantageous of as much as $100,000 (£71,373).
On this case, each Torres and Queralta have been set at an $80,000 bond by a choose.