Two men from West Palm Beach apparently enjoyed the ride with an injured owl while they were allegedly drinking and captured the whole thing on film, according to wildlife authorities.
But wildlife state officials aren’t laughing. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the two men could face charges of capturing a great horned owl.
“[The video] drives me crazy,” said Amy Keith, director of animal care at Bush Sanctuary.
The video was uploaded to Facebook on March 16. It depicts two men driving around with an owl that looked dazed or dazed. The man who claims to have filmed the video posted on his page that he and a friend found the owl while driving through West Palm Beach.
“At three o’clock in the morning we are drunk and ready to take this thing home and eat, just found it on the road,” the message says.
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In the video, the driver is holding an owl while loud music is playing. The center console contains a bottle that is described as alcohol in captions and video comments. The two are heard laughing at how they wanted to ride the bird.
Fisheries and Wildlife Commission spokeswoman Liz Barraco said the agency is starting an investigation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. She said she could not comment on whether the agency was able to speak to the men involved in the incident and did not know if charges could be brought.
Palm Beach County Conservation and Animal Control Captain Dave Walesky said he notified the state agency of the video after receiving a tip from someone in California. He said that the Florida Animal Control Association received an email with a link to the video that was sent to him.
Since the great horned owl is a protected species, he said, the government agency took responsibility for this and also notified the Bush Sanctuary, which accepts injured animals such as owls. Kite said the reserve has begun working with authorities to track down those responsible.
She said officials told her that they had managed to contact the man behind the camera. She said the men released the owl the next day.
“We have never seen an owl or touched an owl,” she said. “The guy on the video said he let go.”
Officials speculate that the owl was injured when it was hit by a car. Kite said she was saddened to learn that the injured owl was still there, hurt and terrified.
“Very often we get these animals, and there is no one to blame,” she said. “This case is different because we know who these people are, but we just can’t get to the animal to help it. I am even more upset that there is an animal that was hit by a car and, unfortunately, he will not receive the help it deserves. “