Petition demands punishment for those in shark-dragging incident

The video of a shark being dragged at high speed behind a boat sparked online outrage when it was posted to Facebook on July 24 and it prompted an investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation.

It also prompted a local activist group called Stand Up Bark Back to start a petition calling for those involved in the shark-dragging incident to be punished with 1,000 hours of community service. It also asks Florida lawmakers to "pass a bill making this kind of animal torture a second-degree felony" and asks that "punishment should consist of jail time in addition to community service.”

That petition, launched on Change.org, was submitted to Florida attorney general Ed Brodsky on Monday with more than 254,000 signatures, according to the Bradenton Herald.

More from the Bradenton Herald:

In late July, a video surfaced of a shark being dragged by a boat at high speeds. Since then, more videos and photos have come to light showing beer being poured down a Goliath grouper's mouth and a juvenile hammerhead shark being shot, the latter of which featured one of the stars of MTV's "Siesta Key," Alex Kompothecras.

More than 254,000 people signed the Change.org petition that demands prosecution for the four individuals allegedly being investigated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Although FWC has not named [them], two of them had been identified as Robert Lee "Bo" Benac, son of Manatee County commission chairwoman Betsy Benac, and Michael Wenzel, son of Manatee County planning section manager Robert Wenzel.

The activist group said in the petition that the "sociopathic behavior demands attention and prevention." The petition also shows part of the video:

Lakota Moonfire told the Herald that she hoped the fact that two of the fishermen are sons of Manatee County officials doesn't "skew" the investigation: "It may be a very good time to make an example of this, to show the public that they are not biased and that they will punish those who violate the law."

For their part, the FWC and state attorney's office on Monday released a joint statement that read in part, "FWC law enforcement investigators and the State Attorney's Office are diligently working towards a swift and lawful resolution to this case. These investigations are complex and both FWC and the State Attorney's Office appreciate the public's understanding and patience. We take these incidents seriously and this investigation is moving forward."

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