US wildlife officials say they are investigating after a manatee was discovered in a Florida river with the word “Trump” on its back.
Hailey Warrington, a boat captain who specializes in manatee snorkeling tours, said she recorded this video in the shallow waters of the Homosassa River on Sunday, January 10.
Warrington said she immediately reported the incident to the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The Center for Biological Diversity announced a $5,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in relation to the incident. The center said officials believed the word was scratched into algae on the animal’s back.
“Manatees aren’t billboards, and people shouldn’t be messing with these sensitive and imperiled animals for any reason,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the center.
A federal wildlife officer told the Citrus County Chronicle that harassment of a manatee, protected by the Endangered Species Act, is a Class A federal criminal offense punishable by a $50,000 fine and/or up to one year in federal prison. Anyone with information has been asked to contact officials. Credit: Hailey Warrington via Storyful