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Officials investigating video of man kicking squirrel off Grand Canyon rim

A video of a shirtless man with straw cowboy hat luring a squirrel to edge of Grand Canyon with food, and then punting the small animal high into the air has gone viral. Grand Canyon officials are investigating the incident, according to a NAZToday report. The video shows that the slender man in boxer shorts is accompanied by another similarly dressed man. After receiving complaints from around the world, Grand Canyon National Park officials are turning up the heat.

Grand Canyon South Rim depicted in viral video
Stacey Wittig

"The penalty is up to six months in jail and or up to a $5000 fine," said Kirby-Lynn Shedlowski, Public Relations Officer at the Grand Canyon in a NAZToday interview. "Those are the penalties for any petty offenses. We always want visitors to be aware of that. ...we keep wild life wild and that includes squirrels."

After laying out a bread trail towards the canyon edge, the man wearing only hat and underwear, puts on one shoe and waits for the squirrel to scramble to the end of the crumb trail. Captured on video, he then hauls back and kicks the squirrel high into the air and over the edge of the abyss.

The park names eight squirrel species in their "Mammal Species of Grand Canyon" document, but the squirrel in the viral video looks to be a Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel.

The Grand Canyon National Park website warns:

Never approach wild animals. Photograph all wildlife from the safety of your vehicle. Use telephoto lenses and observe quietly. It is dangerous, and illegal, to feed wild animals in a national park. Violators will be fined.

The Grand Canyon National Park is located 1.25 hours north of Flagstaff, Arizona. NAZ Today is Northern Arizona's only television news source and is located on the Northern Arizona University Campus in Flagstaff.