Footage shared on Facebook by Thomas Cope, a lawyer based in Clearwater, Florida, shows a raccoon being pushed off a boat amid taunts. The animal appears stranded in water.
“Get off my f****** boat,” an unseen man shouts at the raccoon in the video.
The man yells again at the animal in an apparent attempt to scare him off the boat.
“We’re just going to have to push him off,” he continues. Before he can do so, the raccoon loses its grip and falls off the boat.
“So long, sucker,” the man says, as footage shows the animal, now overboard, stranded in the water.
In the post sharing the video, Mr Cope wrote that he was “about 20 miles” offshore when he pushed the raccoon off his boat. He says the animal was hidden during the journey out to sea.
The video went viral, enraging animal lovers. It also prompted an investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Now, Mr Cope has apologised for his actions.
“The animal was running around the boat hissing and growling, making it impossible for me or my friend to drive the boat,” Mr Cope wrote in a statement obtained by the Tampa Bay Times. “Knowing raccoons can be rabid and unpredictable, the only realistic option we could think of in the moment was to get the raccoon off the boat.”
It is unclear if the raccoon survived.