HOMOSASSA SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) — State and federal wildlife officials are investigating reports of a manatee found with “Trump” scraped on its back in a Florida river.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission say the aquatic mammal was spotted over the weekend in the Homosassa River in Citrus County.
Wildlife officials are looking for any information regarding the animal’s harassment.
The Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit group that protects endangered animals, is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the case.
“It’s heartbreaking that this manatee was subjected to this vile, criminal act,” Center Director Jaclyn Lopez said. “It’s clear that whoever harmed this defenseless, gentle giant is capable of doing grave violence and needs to be apprehended immediately.”
Harassing a manatee is a federal crime, and is punishable by a $50,000 fine and up to one year in prison under the Endangered Species Act.