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Video Shows Boaters Forcing Baby Raccoon Into Ocean 20 Miles From Shore

ryan.ford 20 May 2019

One of the first lessons you learn about interacting with the natural world is that, for the most part, animals are as scared of humans as humans are of them, and fear can make animals act in uncharacteristic ways.

Also, humans are animals,too. When they're afraid, they might do some uncharacteristic things as well. We can only hope that that explains this video.

Authorities in Florida have yet another strange, sad case on their hands.

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As the Tampa Bay Times reported, Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating after a video posted to Facebook showed boaters forcing a raccoon into ocean waters 20 miles from shore

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The alarming video shows a frightened raccoon popping up on the boat's deck.

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Apparently it had curled up in a warm, dry spot on the boat for a nap and ended up an accidental stowaway for two friends out on a day trip. The men got about 20 miles from the dock before the raccoon made its presence known.

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In the video, the men can be heard shouting and swearing at the raccoon, saying things like "Get off my (expletive) boat!"

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The clearly terrified raccoon darts around the edge of the boat, looking for a safe spot away from the shouting men.

Towards the end, one of the men says, "We're just going to have to push him off."

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Seconds later, the raccoon backs itself overboard and into the water.

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As the camera zooms in on the raccoon looking for somewhere to go as it treads water, one of the men says "So long, sucker."

The raccoon is believed to have drowned.

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It's not just the FWC investigating the video - the Florida Bar association is also looking into it.

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The man who posted the video, under the caption "Trash panda came out from hiding 20 miles from dock! Anyone else had these things squat on their boat? watch muted if you don’t like profanity," is Thomas Cope, a Clearwater-based lawyer.

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No surprise, given the two investigations and considerable backlash online, Cope has apologized for his actions.

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After deleting the video he had posted, in a Facebook post Cope said he wished he'd handled the situation differently and instead brought the raccoon back to shore.

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Cope also tried to explain his thinking at the time of the encounter.

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"The animal was running around the boat hissing and growling, making it impossible for me or my friend to drive the boat," he wrote. "Knowing raccoons can be rabid and unpredictable, the only realistic option we could think of in the moment was to get the raccoon off the boat."

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FWC officials did release a statement on Cope's case.

"It is still too early to speculate as to what violations took place in this incident," the agency said. "However, the FWC would like to state that we believe these vile acts of animal cruelty have no place in our state or anywhere else."

Watch the Tampa Bay Times video of the incident below.

h/t Tampa Bay Times

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