Two men ac­cused of ha­rass­ing an­i­mals

The Palm Beach Post - - OBITUARIES -

Wildlife in­ves­ti­ga­tors have ar­rested two men who they say posted sev­eral videos that showed one of them han­dling fed­er­ally pro­tected pan­ther kit­tens and wrestling and ha­rass­ing al­li­ga­tors.

A Flor­ida Fish and Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Com­mis­sion ar­rest re­ports says the in­ci­dents oc­curred in the Big Cy­press Na­tional Pre­serve.

The men — 45-year-old Al­fredo Lopez de Quer­alta and 42-year-old Javier Tor­res — were ar­rested Tues­day on eight felony counts each of killing, in­jur­ing or pos­sess­ing al­li­ga­tors or eggs with­out author­ity and eight mis­de­meanor counts per­tain­ing to han­dling or en­dan­ger­ing threat­ened species.

The Mi­ami Her­ald re­ports the in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gan when wildlife of­fi­cers and agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Na­tional Parks ser­vice watched a Feb. 17, 2017, video posted on YouTube. re­port says 28-year-old Joseph Cooper called 911 Mon­day af­ter­noon from south of Port St. Lu­cie, say­ing he was head­ing north and couldn’t slow down.

The 911 op­er­a­tor told Cooper to put the ve­hi­cle in neu­tral, but he said he couldn’t. He said he didn’t want to use the emer­gency brake at the speed he was trav­el­ing.

State troop­ers and lo­cal po­lice drove along­side the SUV to clear traf­fic. De­ploy­ing stop sticks three times, they fi­nally brought the SUV to a stop west of Vero Beach.

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