The students allegedly beat the duck over the head with a broomstick
Several high school football players in New Hampshire allegedly brutally beat a duck during a football camp last month before another student strangled the animal to death in what one official said was an act of mercy.
According to reports from The Conway Daily Sun and WMUR, the Kennett High School football players involved in the incident were all attending a camp from Aug. 20-22, when they allegedly lured a duck out of the water and beat it on the head with a broomstick. The act was caught on video and later uploaded to the internet.
“The heinous activity of a duck being hit over the head with a broomstick is what ended up happening,” Conway School District Superintendent Kevin Richard told WMUR. “And then another student ended up euthanizing the duck. It was hurt pretty badly.”
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and police teamed up on the investigation. An official from Fish and Game told WMUR the students would not be charged but that other punishment was discussed with school officials.
“These students are juveniles, so they cannot be charged with anything,” Fish and Game Maj. David Walsh told the outlet. “Their parents would be charged, and the fines are small. So suspensions and community service, everyone agreed, would be the effective punishment.”
In the state of New Hampshire, animal cruelty is classified as a misdemeanor with a fine up to $2000 and/or imprisonment up to 1 year, according to Stray Pet Advocacy.
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Officials faced criticism after the alleged perpetrators weren’t charged.
On Monday, Fish and Game issued a statement on Facebook defending their course of action and that of the school.
“Regarding the situation with the children who killed a duck last week, the media were not originally aware of the entire situation. The children involved did receive substantial consequences including community service involving working with animals,” the Fish and Game Department wrote. “All issues raised with Fish and Game are being addressed. Fish and Game Law Enforcement feels the school acted swiftly and appropriately and worked with them from the beginning.”
Fish and Game Col. Kevin Jordan said the student who killed the duck did so out of “courage” to stop the group from abusing the animal and to put it out of its misery.
“He felt he had no options but to strangle it to put it down because he didn’t want to see it suffer,” Jordan told the Sun.
In a statement to PEOPLE, the school district’s superintendent, Kevin Richard, said that the school’s response has been multi-faceted and includes disciplinary action, educational programming, mental health assessment and community service. School officials are reviewing policies, procedures and protocols to make sure an incident like this does not happen again, the statement says.
Kennett High’s Principal Kevin Carpenter also tells PEOPLE that the school is focusing on “restorative” disciplinary action, rather than “kicking [their students] to the curb” for their actions.