Two men accused of harassing animals
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.