Animal Cruelty for Amusement

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The men who dragged a shark behind a boat in a cruel video last week have posted other pictures of abusing wildlife on their social media pages, and animal lovers are calling for stern action against them.

On Tuesday, a horrifying video emerged of the shark being brutally dragged behind four men’s speedboat in Florida as they laughed at the helpless creature.

Though the Florida wildlife officials have confirmed the identities of the men involved, they declined to release their names.

Instead, several angry people posted their names on Facebook.

Some of the men allegedly involved have posted several other pictures of themselves mistreating wildlife, including holding various birds and holding up a mutilated shark.

Residents in the area said two of the men, Michael Wenzel and Robert Lee ‘Bo’ Benac, whose mother, Betsy Benac, is the chairwoman of the Manatee County commission, are anglers they’ve repeatedly complained about, according to the Miami Herald.The outrage grew on Thursday when another image surfaced of two of the men pouring beer into the gaping mouth of a protected Goliath grouper and over the gills of a hammerhead shark.

A video of Wenzel shooting at a shark also surfaced on Instagram before he shut down his profile.

Social media users have been expressing their disgust, demanding jail time for the men.

Instagram user @tati.tvami.asi wrote: “Yeah, they’re pieces of s***. I wish some one could drag them behind their car like this.”

User @yeahjustg wrote: “How sad for that poor shark. A beautiful creature tortured for some sick human’s amusement. I hope they are identified and prosecuted.” 

According to the Miami Herald, Wenzel was investigated by state and federal officials in 2015 after posting a series of disturbing pictures that showed him gripping pelicans.

Wildlife officials said the case was closed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in January, highlighting the difficulty in prosecuting incidents depicted in an online post.

It’s unclear if those involved have done anything illegal. But social media are calling it animal cruelty.

As of Thursday night, 3,200 outraged people signed a petition calling for Florida wildlife officials to revoke the men’s fishing licenses and order them to “1,000 hours of community service”.

“These 1,000 community service hours will be held under the supervision of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission,’ the petition read.

“They will use that time to teach these young men to treat our Florida wildlife with respect.”

In Florida, shark fishing is legal but regulated. Some species cannot be harvested at all; others must have reached a certain length before harvesting is allowed.


Earlier report: Jul 26, Video of Shark Dragged and Torn to Pieces Triggers Outrage