Authorities in Florida are seeking to punish those responsible for a string of dolphin deaths in the state and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is offering $20,000 as a reward for answers. Biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found a dead dolphin that’d been killed by a bullet or sharp object off Naples last week, around the same time that Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge experts found another dolphin with a bullet in its left side along Pensacola Beach. In May, a dolphin was found dead with a puncture wound in its head along Captiva Island. At least 29 dolphins have been shot by bullets and arrows or impaled since 2002. It is illegal to hunt, harass, kill, or feed wild dolphins—the crime carries up to a year in jail and up to $100,000 in fines, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. According to biologists, the recent string of dolphin deaths could be linked to people feeding the wild animals. The mammals will go to dangerous extents to access food, which they are known to associate with humans and boats. NOAA is offering the reward for any information that leads to civil penalties or criminal convictions for those responsible in the deaths.
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