SLIDELL, La., May 29 (UPI) -- A rogue dolphin living in a canal in Slidell, La., has been attacking swimmers and boaters, and little can be done about it, authorities say.
The male dolphin has only recently become aggressive, after taking up residence in the canal behind the Lakeshore Estates subdivision after Hurricane Katrina, WVUE-TV, New Orleans, said Tuesday, reporting one person was bitten last week as he was standing in a boat and washing his hands in the water.
"The dolphin was raised back here and all of a sudden I think the mother disappeared and the dolphin just stayed there," neighborhood resident Greg Walters theorized.
He added he knows of two people attacked in the past few months.
"Dolphin grabbed my niece by the hand. She pulled her hand out of the mouth, and in doing so ripped the tendons out of her hand and had to go to the emergency room."
Doctors at Slidell Memorial Hospital say they have seen two incidents of dolphin bite wounds in the past week and know of a third at a different local hospital.
"This is out of the ordinary. I've never seen it before and I've been practicing emergency medicine for 30 years," said Slidell Memorial Hospital ER Dr. Lloyd Gueringer.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologist Mandy Tumlin suggested the dolphin is accustomed to people feeding him, saying, "This animal has associated humans with food and it may have led to its now aggressive and noted biting behaviors."
The department has no plans to take the dolphin out of its habitat, it said, noting it is a federal crime to feed or harass dolphins.