MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Federal wildlife authorities in Florida are looking for the person or persons who mutilated a manatee by carving the word “Trump” onto its back.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the manatee was discovered Sunday in the headwaters of the Homosassa River in Citrus County, about 75 miles north of the Tampa Bay area.
The animal harassment case was first reported by the Citrus County Chronicle, which showed a picture of the gentle sea cow with the name of the US president clearly visible etched into its skin.
“The US Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the harassment of a manatee,” the paper said.
“The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is investigating the harassment of a manatee…reported to federal authorities over the weekend discovered w/ words "Trump" scraped in its back …discovered in Blue Hole on the Homosassa River” (via @CitrusChronicle )
Insurrectioning wildlife? pic.twitter.com/PvzI3pZ5Xn
— 𝐄𝐱𝐚𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐫 𝐏𝐨𝐩𝐞 (@exavierpope) January 11, 2021
Manatees are protected by the Endangered Species Act and it is a federal criminal offense to harass the gentle sea cows punishable by a $50,000 fine and up to one year in prison.
The slow-moving warm-blooded mammals are known to congregate in Florida’s warmer waters during the Winter.
Authorities are seeking any information on who might be responsible. Just call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 888-404-FWCC (3922) and information will be forwarded to the USFWS.
The Center for Biological Diversity is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of person or persons responsible.
“It’s heartbreaking that this manatee was subjected to this vile, criminal act,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center. “It’s clear that whoever harmed this defenseless, gentle giant is capable of doing grave violence and needs to be apprehended immediately.”