A huge reward is being offered for tips in shark poaching and dumping.
Officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are investigating the poaching of six smalltooth sawfish that were dumped on a road size in the Everglades. They are asking the public for tips and NOAA is offering a $20,000 reward for information in the case.
The FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute posted photos of the scene on their website and social media last week showing the six dead sawfish, also known as carpenter sharks. In addition to the dead sawfish, two bonnethead sharks were also found on the scene.
The press release states that the dumped animals were discovered by an Everglades National Park employee between Chokoloskee Island and Everglades City.
Six critically endangered sawfish were found dead on the side of the road in the Florida Everglades. NOAA's Office of...
The find is concerning for officials because the unusual-looking sawfish is critically endangered and are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Sawfish have struggled to rebound for a few reasons. Mainly because they only reproduce every other year, but also because the species gives birth to small litters of young.
"The loss of these six animals is nearly equivalent to one mother's entire litter," the press release reads.
While officials investigate this poaching case, the FWC is planning to do necropsies to determine the cause of death for the animals.
Anybody who has any information about this case is asked to contact NOAA's enforcement hotline. The number is 1-800-853-1964. The press release states that tips can be left anonymously if desired. The release also states that the $20,000 reward is for information that leads to either a criminal conviction or assessment of a civil penalty in the case.
Considering that the animals are protected under the endangered species act, the penalties for illegally taking six animals would likely be significant. In a previous sawfish poaching case, a man faced a $50,000 fine for poaching just one sawfish. That was later reduced to $2,000 but that is still a significant amount for one shark. We will keep an eye on this story as it develops and bring you any new updates on it right here at Wide Open Spaces.