And when you make bad decisions, probably not a good idea to let strangers take pictures with the evidence.
Two Florida men, enjoying a presumably drunken day on the river, recently made some really bad decisions, and now they’re facing the consequences.
They’re both now headed to court and being charged with illegal take of wildlife, a very serious offense.
Last week, a picture of a 22-year old Florida man holding a tiger shark in his arms like an idiot went viral.
The photo shows him standing in the Chassahowitzka River with a rope attached to a boat tied around the sharks tail. “The Chazz” is a 5-mile long spring fed river in Citrus Country and one of the most scenic and ecologically rich areas of the entire state.
According to the Citrus County Chronicle, the man in the photo had nothing to do with the illegal take, he just posed for a picture that went viral. And now, he’s the one taking the heat:
“People are chewing me a new one right now. I’m an animal lover. I would never do anything to hurt one.”
The man pictured and his friends were in the Chassahowitzka head spring when they saw a boat come in dragging the tiger shark.
“I’ve never seen one before. He had a rope tied to its tail and it was still in the water. I said, ‘Can I take a picture of it?’, and he said, ‘Sure.’ I probably picked it up for about 10 seconds and then I put it back in the water.”
After posting the photo on Facebook, the social media attacks began rolling in. The photo was shared to the “Real Florida hunting and fishing” Facebook page, quickly generating over 1,000 mostly negative comments and 6,000 shares.
Wilson said he then learned that taking a tiger shark is illegal and, while playing no role in that, he nonetheless was upset.
“I called FWC myself. I was scared to death. I’m not a troublemaker. I love marine wildlife.”
Wilson will not be charged. However, the two men on the boat dragging the tiger shark are in big trouble. To make matters worse, they reportedly cleaned the shark in the middle of the river in order to harvest the sharks meat.
According to an unnamed witness who was on the scene, the men treated the shark with an incredible amount of disrespect while committing their illegal acts.
“You can’t torture an animal like that, number one. And you have to know what species you are allowed to harvest and what species you’re not. And apparently it was a tiger shark and they’re a no-no.”
Florida Wildlife Commission officials confirmed that they issued notices to appear in court to two individuals for illegal taking of a specific species of shark.
“The FWC is aware of the incident that took place over the weekend on the Chassahowitzka River involving a tiger shark.
The FWC takes this very seriously and is grateful to everyone who reported this incident. Tiger sharks are prohibited from harvest in state waters.”
Anyone with additional information about this incident is asked to contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 or [email protected]. You can remain anonymous.