A viral video showing a man shooing a raccoon off a boat —leading to the animal’s presumed d*ath — has triggered an investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Clearwater lawyer Thomas Cope presented the video on Facebook, where it was copied and promptly went viral on social media. Cope has since issued an apology for his actions.
The video shows a man, apparently Cope, shouting at a raccoon that he said had hidden away on the boat for several hours before revealing its presence after the boat was “well offshore” — or around 20 miles out, according to Facebook.
“Get off my f—— boat,” the man yelled the raccoon, which was scurrying around the bow. “We’re just going to have to push him off.”
The man shouted more while moving toward it. Then the raccoon appeared to fall off the boat. The video focused in on the raccoon paddling in the water, trying to stay afloat.
“So long, sucker,” the man said.
The video was quickly condemned by viewers on social media who called the episode “disgusting” and “despicable.”
Cope issued a statement apologizing for his actions and added that he wished there was some way he could have returned to shore to release the raccoon.
“The animal was running around the boat hissing and growling, making it impossible for me or my friend to drive the boat,” Cope 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.”