KEY WEST, December 13, 2019 – A man who shot a protected bird in Key West last year has pleaded out to killing the osprey.
Josiah Fetzer, 23, of Valley City, Ohio, pleaded no contest to and was adjudicated guilty on December 11 of cruelty to animals and violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, under which ospreys are protected from harm. Monroe County Judge Mark Wilson sentenced him to six months of probation, fined him $1,000 and ordered him to perform 80 hours of community service at a nonprofit animal-welfare organization. He also must pay various investigatory, court and prosecution costs. Assistant State Attorney Ryan Maher represented the state.
Fetzer shot the bird with a pellet gun where he had been working, at the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham Maritime Museum & National Historic Landmark, docked at the Truman Waterfront in Key West.
The morning of August 21, 2018, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer Johnathan Hettel was called to the waterfront about the shooting. Fetzer was there with Key West police. A witness told Hettel he saw Fetzer shoot the bird, which was on the ship’s mast.
Fetzer told Hettel he saw the osprey on the mast, retrieved his uncle’s pellet gun and shot at the bird four or five times to scare it away, which he said was common practice when seeing birds on the ship. The last shot struck the bird and it “spiraled down,” landing on the pier. He said he called someone for help after he realized the bird was struck.
The osprey was taken to the Marathon Veterinary Hospital, where doctors found it “had an open compound fracture of the distal ulna, meaning the bone was visible outside of the body and in multiple pieces.” There was also an “open spiral fracture of the distal radius.” Doctors performed surgery but the osprey was euthanized about a month and a half later at the Key West Wildlife Center because its bone tissue was dying.