A furious New Hampshire community is calling for harsher punishment for several high school football players who were caught on video beating a wild duck with a broomstick.
The brutal killing, which was recorded and posted online, happened in late August when members of the Kennett High School football team were at Camp Winaukee in Moultonborough.
The footage shows a group of teens luring ducks out of Lake Winnipesaukee. One of the boys struck the animal with a broomstick. Another student then reportedly strangled the duck until it died.
School district officials said they investigated and punished those involved with game suspensions, counseling and community service, which many people have called a slap on the wrist.
An online petition calling for more severe consequences for the teens had garnered nearly 2,000 signatures by Tuesday morning.
“I am 100% ashamed to walk the same halls as you at school,” Taylor Garland, who launched the campaign on Change.org, wrote. “It is not tolerated by me or anything else and if it were me deciding your punishment you would not be playing your 2019 football season.”
Police said the boys would not be criminally charged, but the New Hampshire Fish and Game insists the punishments were fitting.
“The kids involved did receive substantial consequences,” the agency said in social media posts on Monday. “F&G Law feels the school acted swiftly and appropriately and has been working w/ them from the start.”
Regarding the situation w/ the children who killed the duck, the media were not originally aware of the entire situation. The kids involved did receive substantial consequences. F&G Law feels the school acted swiftly and appropriately and has been working w/ them from the start.
Several Facebook users took issue with the department’s phrasing and the seemingly light consequences.
“First off they are not ‘children’ and from what reports state very MILD punishment,” Gail Goodman wrote on the agency’s Facebook page. “I saw that video and it was the cruelest, intentional act that is being sugar coated…”
The football team is made up of 11 seniors, 14 juniors, 13 sophomores and 18 freshmen, though none of the athletes who were suspended was a senior, according to The Conway Daily Sun.
Schools Superintendent Kevin Richard described the incident to local news outlets as “heinous” and acknowledged the community’s outrage.
"There are very strong opinions both ways,” he told ABC affiliate WMUR. “And you try to come back with what you think is reasonable, and also recognizing that these are adolescents that make bad choices.”