MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The State Attorney’s Office in Manatee County has confirmed that it is investigating the shark dragging video that went viral last month and sparked widespread outrage online.
Over the past couple of weeks, this infamous video clip has enraged animal lovers worldwide. One of the culprits, identified by People Magazine as Michael Wenzel, also has a history of animal abuse allegations.
Andrew Van Sickle with the State Attorney’s Office Animal Abuse Unit reached out to 8 On Your Side this week.
“The photographs, if proven, demonstrate several violations. For example, possession of a Goliath grouper, tarpon, etc. Whether we are able to charge the crimes is still under investigation,” said Van Sickle.
Van Sickle also adds that he expects the State Attorney’s Office to make a decision on the case sometime mid-August.
“I cannot comment on specifics because it may hamper our investigation,” Van Sickle said.
“Regardless of whether we are able to criminally charge the individuals involved in the incident(s), the pictures and videos prove how much damage one person can do to our natural resources,” said Van Sickle.
“When I look at the pictures, I can’t believe that someone could show such blatant indifference to these remarkable creatures. The true sport fisherman I know respect Mother Nature and operate with some care and concern. Even my seven-year-old daughter thanks each fish she catches before returning it back to the water,” Van Sickle added.
The State Attorney’s office is working closely with FWC on this investigation.
“[The FWC] have been flooded with tips, posts, and videos from the public. I know they are diligently following up on every lead,” Van Sickle said. “Several people have expressed their displeasure regarding the speed of the investigation. The investigators and I are bound by the law that we have sworn to follow. I am sure the public will want us to investigate the case thoroughly – which takes time. The State Attorney, Mr. Brodsky, is committed to protecting our wildlife and has personally ensured that we have the tools necessary to do what we need to do.”
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