The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has opened an investigation into the cruel harassment of a manatee found in a Florida river with the word “Trump” scratched on its back.
The West Indian manatee, a species classified as “threatened” under U.S. wildlife protection laws, was found on Sunday in the headwaters of the Homosassa River on the state’s west coast.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assured that the manatee did not appear to be seriously injured.
The Citrus County Chronicle published a video showing an underwater view of the slow-moving mammal, with the word “Trump” written in block letters across its back. How the letters were carved was not immediately clear.
The Tucson, Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity said it was offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the case.
Harassment of manatees is a federal offense punishable by a fine of up to $50,000 and/or up to one year in prison.
Manatees, nicknamed “sea cows,” are protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Strikes by boats are the top cause of death for the mammal; but loss of habitat, algae blooms and disease also threaten them.
There are more than 6,300 manatees in Florida, up from about 1,267 in 1991.
[Sourced from Agencies]