A Florida man has admitted chasing a raccoon off his boat and leaving it to die in the middle of the ocean.
Thomas Cope posted a video to social media showing the raccoon wandering around his boat while he attempted to scare it away.
As Cope approached the animal and yelled at it to ‘get off my fucking boat,’ the raccoon lost its grip and plummeted into the sea. It could last be seen desperately paddling in the water.
Take a look at the video below:
Shortly after getting posted to Facebook, the video attracted a lot of attention and the state wildlife agency launched an investigation into the incident, the New York Post reports.
In the video, a man – presumably Cope – can be heard yelling at the raccoon which he claimed had been hiding on the boat for several hours before he noticed it while the boat was ’20 miles from dock’.
The man yells:
Get off my fucking boat. We’re just going to have to push him off.
The man then continues to shout as he approaches the scared animal, after which the raccoon appears to slip and fall overboard into the water. The video then shows the raccoon desperately paddling in the water.
Rather than help the struggling animal, the man simply says, ‘so long, sucker’. The raccoon is presumed to be dead.
The video quickly went viral, with many condemning the man for leaving the raccoon to drown and calling the incident ‘disgusting’ and ‘despicable.
The Tampa Bay Times report that Cope has since issued an apology, stating that he wishes there was some way he could have returned to shore to release the raccoon.
The man said:
The animal was running around the boat hissing and growling, making it impossible for me or my friend to drive the boat. 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.
Cope continued, saying he felt bad for the animal and was sorry for his actions.
Florida’s wildlife agency was alerted to the video on May 8 and said it is taking the incident ‘very seriously’.
The agency has asked anyone who has additional information about what happened to call the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-3922.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).