Man at center of lion hunting scandal has Marco Island home

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MARCO ISLAND, Fla.- A story drawing outrage across the nation has a Southwest Florida connection.

After a beloved lion named Cecil was killed during a hunt in Zimbabwe, people lashed out at the hunter, Walter Palmer, saying that the Minnesota dentist should be held accountable.

Palmer owns a vacation home on Marco Island.

“It’s pretty crazy, it’s pretty crazy,” said resident Erin Milchman. “You know, we live in a very small island town and really nothing ever happens here. There’s very little crime and you know when something this big happens here, it’s a pretty big deal.”

No one answered the door at Palmer’s home on Wednesday. Neighbors said they haven’t seen Palmer in a while.

Authorities in Zimbabwe said Palmer paid $50,000 to hunt Cecil and that the beloved animal was lured from a protected area. Palmer said he thought everything his guides were doing was legal.

“My reaction is that Dr. Palmer more than likely had no idea that he was shooting a protected lion,” said Marco Island resident Andrew Derwin.

Joey Waves, who also lives on the island, believes that even if Palmer didn’t mean to kill the animal, he was still wrong.

“You shouldn’t be hunting animals like that,” he said. “They’re beautiful creatures, why do you have to kill it?”

Some are speculating whether or not Palmer will seek refuge at his Marco Island home, but as of right now, his whereabouts are unknown. If found, he could face poaching charges.

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