A pregnant dolphin was found shot to death on a beach in Mississippi, and wildlife officials are offering a hefty award for information on the person responsible. The bottlenose dolphin was discovered stranded on the sand in the city of Waveland back in April. An autopsy revealed she had been shot in the lung. Her unborn calf was also dead.
Several groups including the Humane Society, Ocean Experience and Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder have joined together to offer an $11,500 reward for information.
It is a federal crime to harass, hunt, capture or kill a dolphin in the United States. They are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1992. The law also applies to animals including whales, seals, sea lions, manatees, polar bears. The punishment for harming a dolphin includes a year behind bars and fines up to $100,000.
Dolphin killings have been on the rise over the last decade. The NOAA reports that at least 24 dolphins have suffered violent deaths at the hands of humans in the Gulf region since 2002. They were found with either gunshot or arrow wounds, or had been beaten with hard objects. 68 percent of those deaths have happened since 2010.
Anyone with information is asked to call the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964 or the Slidell, LA, Enforcement Field Office at 985-643-6232.