Florida man, 88, set fire to trapped raccoon, police say

Ezra Lee James faces animal cruelty charge

By Lamaur Stancil of Florida Today, Erik Sandoval - Reporter

PALM BAY, Fla. - A Palm Bay man faces charges after he set fire to a trapped raccoon Thursday morning, according to police.

Palm Bay police said they learned about the incident around 10 a.m., News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

Ezra Lee James, 88, told officers he had trapped the raccoon as a nuisance, Palm Bay police spokesman Lt. Steve Bland said.

James told police his solution for disposing of the animal was to set it on fire.

Officers euthanized the badly injured raccoon, Bland said.

Neighbors told News 6 James is a nice man, and he often waved at them when he was working in his front yard.

One man said he thought police were putting down a stray dog when he heard a gunshot Thursday morning, but he later found out police were putting down the injured raccoon.

James' case comes three months after another case involving a raccoon made headlines.

In May, a teacher in Marion County was captured on cellphone video drowning several raccoons and a possum with his agriculture class.

In that case, the teacher wasn't arrested, and he wasn't charged, and he retired from his position.

According to its website, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission follows recommendations from the American Veterinary Medical Association on what kind of deaths are humane, and which are not.

According to the association's document, drowning is not a humane method and neither is burning.

James faces a charge of animal cruelty resulting in death, and he has a bond set at $2,000. He is scheduled to appear before a judge Friday afternoon.

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