From the New York Times – Wildlife authorities are investigating and said that the harassment of the manatee is illegal under state and federal laws.
Credit: Hailey Warrington
The sighting in Florida this week of a manatee with “Trump” etched in block letters on its back has prompted an investigation and a plea for help from a nonprofit conservation group.
The Center for Biological Diversity said it was offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to a conviction “for the cruel and illegal mutilation” of a threatened manatee in the Homosassa River in Citrus County, on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
“It’s heartbreaking that this manatee was subjected to this vile, criminal act,” Jaclyn Lopez, the center’s Florida director, said on Monday.
“It’s clear that whoever harmed this defenseless, gentle giant is capable of doing grave violence and needs to be apprehended immediately,” she added.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission began investigating after the manatee was discovered on Sunday with scarring in the form of the president’s name, the center said. The discovery was reported by the Citrus County Chronicle.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said that manatee did not appear to be seriously injured “as it seems the word was written in algae on the animal’s back.”
Patrick Rose, the executive director of the nonprofit Save the Manatee Club, said he had seen the photos of the manatee earlier on Monday and was disturbed.
“This is a type of a molestation of an imperiled species,” he said on Monday from Gainesville, Fla. He added that the manatee appeared to be an adolescent.