Hunter Hardesty is the Maryland man who made a splash — literally — in a video that seems to show him tangling with a federally protected pelican. Hardesty posted the video to his Facebook account on March 7 with the caption, “Yeah, they bite hard.” Since then, social media has been buzzing with anger over Hardesty’s treatment of the bird. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Hardesty Dived Into the Water & Dunked the Pelican — but the Bird Bit Back
Hardesty posted his pelican video from Key West, Florida. The clip shows Hardesty, wearing a t-shirt and shorts, leaning over the edgoe of a pier with what seems to be a small fish in his hand. The pelican swims over to take a look, and that’s when Hardesty jumps into the water on top of the bird. Both Hardesty and the pelican go under water for a moment. When they come back up, Hardesty is holding the bird in two hands, and you can hear men laughing gleefully off-camera.
A woman’s voice orders Hardesty to get out of the water right away, or else, she says, she’ll call security. At that moment, the pelican whips its head around and bites Hardesty, who gets startled and lets the bird go.
Officer Bobby Dube, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told the Baltimore Sun that the commission is looking into whether Hardesty will face any charges. He said the bird in the video is a brown pelican, a species which is protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Florida state law, which forbid “molesting” the animals.
2. Hardesty Has Been Arrested for Drug Possession Multiple Times
In 2014, police in Anne Arundel county arrested Hardesty and three other individuals after a raid on a hotel room in Annapolis, Maryland. Hardesty was 26 years old at the time.
Officers had first been alerted to the group when they checked a vehicle at the Harbour Center south of Annapolis and discovered drug paraphernalia and money. They also found a key card for a hotel room. Officers went to the hotel and said they smelled marijuana coming from the room, so they obtained a warrant and searched the room, finding 8.2 grams of heroin, 14 grams of marijuana and 19 tablets of oxycodone hydrochloride. Hardesty and three others were arrested after that search.
Separately, Hardesty was arrested and charged with possession of drugs when he was 19, in 2011. Police said that after his initial arrest, he made bail and then remained “at large” as police searched for him.
3. Hardesty Has Previously Been Arrested for Assault & Robbery
In 2016, Anne Arundel police charged Hardesty with beating and robbing a man outside of a bar. Police also charged a second man, Eugene George Morris, in the same crime. The victim in the case told police that Hardesty and Morris attacked him outside of a bar called Moni’s Place; he said that they stole his wallet. Police were called to the scene at a little after 1w1PM. When they searched the area, they found Hardesty and Morris hiding behind a dumpster. The alleged victim identified them as his attackers, and they were charged with robbery, second degree assault, and theft. Hardesty was also charged with resisting arrest.
4. Hardesty Was Charged With ‘Possession with Intent to Distribute’ Oxycodone
Hunter Hardesty has a number of drug arrests on his record. In 2011, he was charged with “possession with intent to distribute” of Oxycodone. He was also charged with possession of marijuana and possesion of drug paraphernalia. The charges came after police in Anne Arundel county seized 300 Oxycodone pills, 6.6 grams of marijuana, 7.6 grams of Psilocybin mushrooms, and various types of CDS drug paraphernalia with a total estimated street value of $9,398.00. Also seized was $18,826 in cash, a 1995 Chevy Impala, a 2002 Suzuki motorcycle, and 6 rifles.
5. Hardesty Previously Worked for an Electrical Company in Davidson, Maryland
Hardesty’s Facebook page lists his employer as a Davidson, Maryland, electrical contracting company. The family-owned company says Hardesty no longer works there.
According to the Miami Herald, Hardesty last worked for the company four years ago.