By now, most people have seen the viral video of the brutes who were dragging a shark from a boat. For those who are unaware, a video surfaced recently showing a group of boaters dragging a shark ‘at high speed’ from a speedboat. Authorities have since launched an investigation.
In the video, a man could be heard saying ‘look, it’s already almost dead.’
But a deeper dive into the boaters seems to reveal that this is not the first time they have abused wild animals.
The group of men was identified as Robert Lee ‘Bo’ Benac, Nicholas Burns Easterling, and Michael Wenzel. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission chose not to confirm the men’s identities in accordance with their previous policies.
However, a dive into Bo Benac’s social media revealed a picture of him and his friend pouring beer into the mouth of a large grouper.
The picture was reposted on Facebook and the caption read: ‘friends please share. We need to get national media attention so the state of Florida does its job. This is one of the evil POS that dragged the shark.’
The post also identified Michael Wenzel as the driver of the speedboat and also Bo Benac’s parents as prominent members of the Manatee County Commission.
Robert Wenzel is the Manatee County Planning section manager, and Bo’s mother is Betsy Benac who is the chairwoman of the Manatee County Commission. Both parents have refused to respond to requests for comments.
An investigation in 2015 was conducted by state and federal officials after pictures surfaced of Mike Wenzel (the driver) gripping pelicans and a seagull.
The Miami Herald reported that the investigation was closed by the US Fish and Wildlife Services last January but it is unclear whether the other boaters were involved in the investigation as well.
And another video on Wenzel’s Instagram page showed him shooting a gun at a tarpon. The video was watched over five thousand times.
Wenzel’s Instagram account is no longer active. But members of social media are not holding back.
An online petition, which received over 5,300 signatures, has openly called for the suspensions of these men’s fishing licenses.
The petition read: ‘this sociopathic behavior demands attention and prevention. Many feel that this act of violence is, in fact, a criminal act…We also demand that everyone in this video has their fishing license revoked permanently.’
Governor Rick Scott wrote to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission saying: ‘the brutality and disrespect shown to this animal is sickening and I am sure that you share my outrage over these individuals’ heinous acts.’