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Palm Beach Gardens man arrested for abusing bird on threatened species list

WPBF West Palm Beach logo WPBF West Palm Beach 9/20/2022
man accused of abuse of sandhill crane © Provided by WPBF West Palm Beach man accused of abuse of sandhill crane

A Palm Beach Gardens man appeared in front of a judge Tuesday morning after being arrested for abusing a bird that is on the threatened species list in Florida.

Michael Bochicchio is accused of torturing a sandhill crane. He is facing two misdemeanor counts and one third-degree felony count.

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Bochicchio is facing a $1,000 bond for his felony charge. Under the conditions of the bond, he is no longer allowed to return to the area of the incident.

Bochicchio was charged after Florida Fish and Wildlife and Jupiter police said he chased a sandhill crane near Military Trail on Monday, grabbed it by the neck and began to remove its feathers.

Sandhill cranes are a part of Florida's threatened species list, meaning they are protected migratory birds in the Sunshine state.

"You are not allowed to harass them, in any way. We need to keep a safe, respectful distance. You’re not supposed to be feeding them. They can’t be hunted," Christen Mason, operations director at Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, told WPBF 25 News.

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Witnesses in the FWC report told police they tried multiple times to stop Bochicchio from removing the feathers and that Bochicchio held feathers in front of a witness' face asking if they wanted to keep them.

"It doesn’t surprise me that people were stepping in to help the crane. We do love our sandhill cranes," Mason said.

FWC officials told WPBF 25 News the crane flew away after the incident.

Bochicchio is set to return to court in October.

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