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Charter captain accused

JAN. 8 — An Alabama charter boat captain has been accused of shooting a dolphin in the Gulf of Mexico last summer.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Mobile, Ala., charged the man, who is 50, of unlawfully taking a marine mammal, alleging that he shot a dolphin that was following his fishing boat, the Lady D, Alabama’s Press-Register newspaper reports. The incident allegedly happened June 10, 2006.

“We think that it’s important that all of the fishermen play by the same rule and that all of the other charters who follow the law are doing the right thing,” assistant U.S. attorney Maria Murphy says in the report.

The man, who has reportedly operated a charter fishing business for nearly three decades, denied that he shot the dolphin, saying he would agree to plead guilty to harassing a dolphin, according to the news report. He says he believes he will receive probation for the offense. Dolphins are protected under federal law, which makes it illegal to harass, capture or kill them.

The man will be summonsed to appear before a federal magistrate judge, although a court date has not been set, the report says. He faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is investigating the incident, according to the report.

Jason Fell