Dolphin found shot to death on Louisiana beach, $20,000 reward offered

Investigators found bullets in the juvenile animal’s brain, heart and spinal cord

Dan Gooding
Wednesday 24 April 2024 22:51 BST
A dolphin was found with multiple gunshot wounds on West Mae’s Beach in Louisiana on 13 March 2024
A dolphin was found with multiple gunshot wounds on West Mae’s Beach in Louisiana on 13 March 2024 (Audubon Aquarium Rescue/NOAA)

A dead dolphin was found with multiple gunshot wounds on a beach in Louisiana, with investigators now offering a reward of up to $20,000 for information.

The young bottlenose dolphin was discovered on West Mae’s Beach in Cameron Parish on 13 March, with a local calling the Southeast Marine Mammal Stranding Hotline.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries department said on Tuesday that the mammal was sent for a necropsy, or animal autopsy, at the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans.

Multiple bullets were found “lodged in the carcass”, the NOAA said, including in the brain, spinal cord and heart.

“The animal appeared to have died from the trauma, which occurred at or near the time of death,” the NOAA’s statement read.

The office’s law enforcement arm is now investigating the incident, with the potential for a criminal conviction under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

$20,000 is being offered for information which leads to a conviction, with those responsible facing a fine of up to $100,000 and a one-year prison sentence.

Bottlenose dolphins have protected status, with the NOAA saying that it is illegal to feed or harass the mammals in the wild.

While threats to dolphins listed by the NOAA include vessel strikes and toxins in the water, shootings do not appear on the list.

In 2020, the NOAA investigated the deaths of two dolphins in Florida which had been shot and stabbed, with another also injured.

Then in 2022, a dolphin in Texas was “harassed to death”, with multiple people seen interacting with the animal before it died.

Anyone with information on the Louisiana case is asked to call the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at (800) 853-1964.

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