Several football players at Kennett High School in North Conway, N.H., are being suspended from playing in some games after video surfaced of at least one player beating a duck with a broomstick and another killing the duck to end its suffering.
As reported by ABC affiliate WMUR in Manchester, the incident happened about two weeks ago at a football camp in Moultonborough, located 31 miles from North Conway, and coaches weren't notified until days later, officials said.
The video shows wild ducks being lured from the water while several students stood around. At one point, one of the students hits a duck with a broomstick.
"The heinous activity of a duck being hit over the head with a broomstick is what ended up happening," said Conway Schools superintendent Kevin Richard. "And then another student ended up euthanizing the duck. It was hurt pretty badly."
Once coaches were informed, police and Fish and Game Department officials were brought in to investigate.
"These students are juveniles, so they cannot be charged with anything," said Fish and Game Maj. David Walsh. "Their parents would be charged, and the fines are small, so suspensions and community service — everyone agreed — would be the effective punishment."
The superintendent said some students received game suspensions, community service and more, including "some mental health pieces, social and emotional pieces and educational components related to it."
Since the incident happened, the school has received many calls from people who are outraged about what happened, Richard said.
"There are very strong opinions both ways, and you try to come back with what you think is reasonable, and also recognizing that these are adolescents that make bad choices and this was a grievous mistake," he said.
The superintendent said the students involved have different punishment levels based on their involvement in the incident.
At a school board meeting Monday, roughly half a dozen citizens calling for further action. According to The Conway Daily Sun, some wanted the players removed from the team, others demanded counseling for the students and even offered to pay for it, and still others asked where the adults were when the incident occurred. One said area businesses are balking at supporting Kennett athletics until stiffer penalties are handed down.
Richard read the following statement at the meeting:
"We acknowledge that a heinous event occurred that resulted in the death of a duck by a member of the football team. Several boys were involved with one of the boys striking the duck and severely injuring the duck. Another boy euthanized the duck to end the suffering.
"The incident was not made known to the coach or athletic director for a period of over a week.
"As soon as staff was aware, an investigation took place. When staff found out about the event, an investigation was done by the coach and athletic director. The police and N.H. Fish and Game were notified and they also investigated the incident. It is important to note that the school districts works independently of the criminal system.
"Students involved received varying levels of consequences and supports. The response by the school has been multi-faceted and includes disciplinary action, educational programming, mental health assessment and community service. There will be no future overnight camps for the football team at this time.
"We have heard from many members of the community and share their concerns as this action is not acceptable nor is it reflective of all students at Kennett High School. We appreciate those who have offered constructive feedback to address the issue. The response by school officials is to do everything to make certain these students understand the severity and impact of their actions as well as take preventative measures to ensure that this will not occur again. We are also reviewing how and why such and event took place and what corrections need to be made so that this type of event does not occur again.
"We are hopeful that we can work with the community to educate and rehabilitate these individuals as well as prevent future events."