Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller has come under fire after a picture circulated on the internet of him holding up what appeared to be a lifeless hammerhead shark in Florida last week, causing concern and criticism from wildlife experts.
Miller, who is said to be an avid fisherman and hunter, is reportedly being investigated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), according to reports Wednesday.
The Texas native posted pictures on social media of him hoisting up what appeared to be a bloodied 9-and-a-half-foot hammerhead shark on his boat during a guided fishing trip off the coast of Miami.
The probe comes after animal advocacy group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) reported news of the incident to the FWC.
Von Miller posing with Cam Newton after Super Bowl 50 pic.twitter.com/W4RZqOlXn3
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Video footage also showed him reeling in the fish and celebrating with friends before tossing it back out to sea. It was unclear if the sea creature had been harmed. The fish is classified as an endangered species and is prohibited for capture, according to Florida law.
“The FWC has received the images and video and is looking into whether or not a violation occurred in this incident,” the agency said in a statement.
The 29-year-old faces up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine if convicted of the illegal capture of a hammerhead shark.
Miller frequently posts his animal adventures to social media and has been connected to wildlife in the past. The former Super Bowl MVP took a chicken farming class as part of a poultry science course at Texas A&M and subsequently opened a chicken farm in suburban Dallas.
“I guess I’m just weird,” Miller said during a 2016 interview. “I don’t know why I like giant animals in New Zealand, it just interests me. But when you see pictures of this — you’ve got a 12-foot bird that looks like an ostrich or an emu and you’ve got these little humans and they are hunting down these birds.
During the 2017-18 season, Miller wore feathered “rooster” during pregame warmups before a match against the Tennessee Titans. “It’s going to be a cold one! I’ll be ready.. Reppin for my hat buddies,” he wrote on Instagram underneath an image of the shoes.
Miller joined the NFL in 2011. He is a six-time Pro Bowler and considered one of the best linebackers in the league.