Cathy Terry always comes home with scenic snapshots after trips to Polk County's Circle B Bar Reserve. But Sunday, she snapped a picture worth a second look.
"I had gotten my shots and was moving on, but when I looked back, I saw these two guys taking pictures," she recalled.
They weren't just framing up a baby sandhill crane with their lens. These photographers were taking a more hands-on approach -- grabbing the baby bird and breaking a state law in the process.
"When I saw that, I just got furious," Terry continued.
But her anger was soon overcome by an urge to take action, and she started snapping pictures of her own.
"It's a new camera, but I focused and I popped off, I think, three quick photos. The next thing I thought was go over there and make him stop."
She says her recommendation wasn't exactly well-received.
"You don't know how people are going to react so you try to be nice and polite. But he just stopped and stared at me and said, 'And just exactly who are you?'"
She says the duo eventually backed down. But when Terry got home and uploaded the day's photos, she was floored by what she found.
"When I zoomed in on the photo, I realized he had his hand crooked under the neck and his finger like that," she said, demonstrating. "Holding it up so the other guy could get a close up of the chick's face."
Experts say touching and feeding the chicks instantly endangers them.
"Any contact with an animal, especially when they're young, can make them less afraid of humans and more suspect to getting hurt," stated Officer Baryl Martin of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Now, Fish and Wildlife officers are looking to find the two men who were caught on camera.
"Each violation could be up to a $500 fine and 60 days in jail," Martin added.
It's a crime Terry says could have been avoided with a simple dose of decency.
"Give them their distance," she offered. "Give them their respect."
If you recognize either of the two men, you're asked to call Florida Fish & Wildlife at 1-888-404-FWCC.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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