There's a $20,000 bounty for the perp who shot the dolphin.

Dolphin Murder

Trigger warning for any animal lovers: federal officials are investigating how a bottlenose dolphin ended up dead and riddled with bullets on a beach in Louisiana, CBS reports, and now investigators are offering a $20,000 bounty for any tips that may lead to the perpetrator.

A beachgoer happened upon the corpse of the juvenile dolphin in March at West Mae’s Beach in Cameron Parish, according to a statement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Law Enforcement. An autopsy later revealed that the dolphin had suffered bullets to its heart, brain and spine.

"The animal appeared to have died from the trauma, which occurred at or near the time of death," reads the NOAA statement.

People with any information are urged to call the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at (800) 853-1964. But to reap the $20,000 bounty, information should lead to an arrest and conviction or a civil penalty.

Due to the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972, it's against the law to feed, harass, or kill wild dolphins. People found guilty of such acts can be jailed up to one year per charge and can be fined up to $100,000, according to the NOAA.

Dangerous Seas

The act is brutal, because dolphins are widely seen as one of the planet's charismatic animals. Who would harm such a magnificent creature?!

But as attested by the gruesome beach scene in Louisiana, dolphins aren't immune to inexplicable violence. Back in 2018, Newsweek reported that someone had shot dead a bottlenose dolphin in Mississippi. In that case, a bullet was found in its lung.

Apparently this has been ongoing problem in the southern region of the United States. In a 2020 NOAA report, officials stated that more than 25 stranded, dead dolphins have been discovered with wounds from guns, arrows and fishing spears.

In 2022, the NOAA reported that a dead bottlenose dolphin turned up with a hole in its head in Florida. An autopsy showed that someone had speared the dolphin while it was still alive.

Back in a 2014 USA Today article, NOAA Bottlenose Dolphin Conservation Coordinator Stacey Horstman said people have been feeding dolphins, who have become habituated to human company. This leads to dicey situations where dolphins snatch bait or fish from fishermen, who violently retaliate.

So word to the wise: don't feed or approach wild dolphins. It's for their own good.

More on dolphins: 150 Dolphins Die as Water Hits Hot Tub Temperature

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