Manatee Etched With Trump On Back Under Federal Investigation
Officials are offering a $5,000 reward for information that could lead them to the person who etched the word ‘TRUMP’ onto the back of a manatee.
An investigation has been launched after the manatee was discovered on Sunday, January 10, in the waters of Florida’s Homosassa River. The word has been written on the animal’s back in algae, officials said.
The Center for Biological Diversity has announced an award urging members of the public to come forward while the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigates.
Check out footage of the manatee here:
Under US law, anyone found guilty of harassing manatees, also referred to as ‘sea cows’, can face up to a year in prison and a $50,000 fine, BBC News reports.
Jaclyn Lopez, director of the Center for Biological Diversity, said the perpetrator is capable of ‘grave violence’.
‘It’s heartbreaking that this manatee was subjected to this vile, criminal act. It’s clear that whoever harmed this defenseless, gentle giant is capable of doing grave violence and needs to be apprehended immediately,’ she said in a statement.
There are currently around 6,300 manatees in Florida, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This number is lower than it was a few years ago, due to habitat loss, algae blooms and collisions with fast-moving boats.
They have also been subject to attacks by humans while swimming in shallow waters of rivers and canals.
In 2020, a total of 637 manatees died, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Of these, 90 were victims of boat collisions while another 15 were killed during interactions with humans.
A spokesperson for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Christina Meister, said that the manatee does not appear to be seriously injured.
‘West Indian manatees are essential members of the ecosystems in which they inhabit and are protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act,’ the service’s director, Aurelia Skipwith said.
‘The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is aware of this incident and is working closely with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission,’ she said.
Her colleague, Federal Wildlife Officer Craig Cavanna, said the incident was very ‘out of character’ of people who regularly swim in the waters, as per the Independent.
‘It’s been my experience that this is very out of character for this community. Wildlife conservation is a core value in Citrus County. That’s why it’s called the Nature Coast. We are following leads,’ he said.
Officials have urged anyone with information to come forward and contact the centre. Members of public can contact the team by calling the wildlife crime tips hotline at 1-844-397-8477 or emailing [email protected]
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Most Read StoriesMost Read