Governor responds to shark abuse viral videos, calls for FWC to review state laws to protect animals

Video evidence, admissions of guilt, no charges
Posted at 9:44 PM, Jul 28, 2017

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is disgusted by the recent viral video that shows a shark getting dragged to death behind a speed boat. And, its disgust might also be exacerbated by the fact that state laws may not be written in a way that leads to any charges.

The viral video posted to Instagram on July 24 shows the horrific death of a shark getting dragged behind a boat going at full speed.  FWC investigators identified the four men laughing and taking video of the sharks demise.  But, four days later no charges have been filed. 

State investigators said they are looking into all of the photos and videos they have received concerning abuse and working to determine if any state laws were broken. 

This week, the video of a hammerhead shark getting drowned with beer surfaced.  The video shows the shark being held as someone pours beer through the sharks gills and another man laying underneath drinking the beer.  It’s unclear if the shark is dead or alive in the video.  But, the hammerhead appears to be dead or dying.

That video was posted in January.  State investigators were tagged but months later still no action.  The Facebook group that posted the video, Doyouevenfishbro, tagged Michael Wenzel as the person who sent it to them.  Wenzel is the same person ABC Action News confirmed was the captain of the boat that was dragging the shark.  Investigators said they are looking into whether or not the same men were involved but would not comment further pending an “active and open investigation.”

On Friday, Governor Rick Scott sent a letter to FWC Chairman Brian Yablonski that read in part, “I encourage FWC to review Florida’s fishing regulations and state statutes to ensure such inhumane acts are strictly prohibited.  I know that FWC law enforcement works to protect all of Florida’s wildlife and we need to make certain they have the tools to ensure Florida has the best fisheries in the world.”

See Governor Scott's full letter here.

Yablonski sent this response to Scott:

I, my fellow Commissioners, and the men and women of the FWC, who are dedicated to conserving Florida’s precious natural resources for future generations, could not agree more with Governor Scott’s powerful words. Each and every member of our agency is disgusted by the behavior shown in the video. FWC Division of Law Enforcement investigators are working diligently to come to a lawful resolution in this case. Florida is a sportsman’s destination and there is no place in Florida for these kinds of callous acts. We are eager to move forward with the Governor's suggestion to review and strengthen regulations as necessary to help deter this type of behavior in the future. These individuals do not represent the sentiments and conscientious actions of millions of conservation-minded anglers around the world.
Wenzel apologized for the video on social media.  No charges have been filed.