Federal wildlife officials are investigating after a manatee was spotted in Florida over the weekend with the word “TRUMP” carved into the animal’s back.
Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission opened an investigation into the incident after witnesses reported seeing the animal Sunday in the Blue Hole headwaters of the Homosassa River in Citrus County.
Video of the manatee shows large letters scrawled across its back in the form of the president’s name.
Here is the video of the poor manatee that had “TRUMP” carved into its body.
Minding it’s own business and some monster(s) came along and did this.
— Yashar Ali (@yashar) January 11, 2021
“It’s been my experience that this is very out of character for this community,” Craig Cavanna, a senior federal wildlife officer leading the investigation, told the Citrus County Chronicle.
Investigators are searching for any information on whoever is responsible for mutilating the animal.
Animal advocacy group the Center for Biological Diversity on Monday said it was offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person, or people, responsible.
“It’s heartbreaking that this manatee was subjected to this vile, criminal act,” Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director of the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.
“It’s clear that whoever harmed this defenseless, gentle giant is capable of doing grave violence and needs to be apprehended immediately.”
The warm-blooded mammals migrate to the spring-fed waters along the county’s western coastline seasonally, making them easily accessible to swimmers and boaters, according to the Citrus County Chronicle.
Manatees are protected under the Endangered Species Act and harassment of the species is a federal criminal offense that is punishable by a $50,000 fine and up to one year in prison.
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