Md. Man Arrested for Viral Pelican Attack

William H. Hardesty. Photo: Maryland State Police

William H. Hardesty. Photo: Maryland State Police

An Annapolis-area man, wanted for animal cruelty in Florida, has been arrested in Ocean City.

Fish and Wildlife officers in Key West got an arrest warrant for 31-year-old William Hunter Hardesty of Riva, after a video on Hardesty’s Facebook page appeared to show him luring a pelican to the water’s edge, then jumping on top of the bird and tackling it. The video went viral, getting thousands of comments and shares.

To see the video, click here. Facebook has flagged the footage for graphic content, requiring viewers to “uncover” the video to watch it.

Screen shot from the video posted to Hunter Hardesty’s Facebook page, which led to animal cruelty charges in Key West.

Screen shot from the video posted to Hunter Hardesty’s Facebook page, which led to animal cruelty charges in Key West.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s warrant charges him with animal cruelty to migratory birds and the intentional feeding of pelicans around March 3.

With a warrant out for his arrest, Maryland State Police say concerned citizens back in Ocean City tipped them off that Hardesty was staying at a local hotel. They told police he was “bragging to them about being wanted for feeding and tackling a pelican in the Florida Keys.” State troopers arrested Hardesty Thursday morning at a hotel in the 12000-block of Ocean Gateway.

Hardesty was being held as a fugitive in the Worcester County Detention Center, to be extradited to Florida to face charges. His charges are all misdemeanors, with maximum penalties up to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines.

Hardesty’s Facebook page remained active after the incident, with posts reading, ”I’m so hungry I could eat a pelican!” and “Thinkin about gettin a pilican tattoo today!”

-Meg Walburn Viviano



Bay Bulletin