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Wildlife investigators have arrested two Florida men they say posted several videos showing them handling federally protected Florida panther kittens and wrestling and harassing alligators.
Alfredo Lopez de Queralta, 45, and Javier Torres, 42, from Miami, were arrested on Tuesday, on eight felony counts each of killing, injuring or possessing alligators or eggs without authority and eight misdemeanor counts pertaining to handling or endangering threatened species.
Incidents - Big - Cypress - National - Preserve
The incidents occurred in the Big Cypress National Preserve, according to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission arrest report.
The arrests of Queralta and Torres come after a year-long investigation by state and federal officials, which kicked off when authorities watched a YouTube video the two had posted on February 22, 2017, according to the Miami Herald.
Video - Officials - Florida - Fish - Wildlife
The video that officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and agents with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Parks Service saw was titled 'Pantera de la Florida con dos Cachorros,' which translates from Spanish to English as 'Florida Panther with two cubs.'
Torres is seen handling and harassing the animals, while Queralta operates the camera, according to the arrest report.
Video - February - Torres - Part - Big
The video from February 2017 appears to show Torres walking through part of the Big Cypress National Preserve at Loop Road in mainland Monroe County.
Torres comes upon a Florida panther den, crawls in, and an adult panther is shown running off, it is claimed.
Point - Queralta - Camera
At that point, Queralta quietly says, 'pantera,' from behind the camera.
Torres can then be seen emerging from the den, holding two Florida panther kittens, 'kissing and cuddling them,' the report written by FWC investigator Guy Gilbert says.
Torres - Camera - Kitten
Torres then speaks to the camera, saying one kitten is male and one is female.
'He poses with the kittens again before tossing them back into the den,' Gilbert wrote.
Torres - Lying
Torres is then shown lying...
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