HOMOSASSA, Florida — Federal wildlife authorities are looking for the animal who carved the word “Trump” into the back of a manatee along Florida’s Gulf Coast.
The injured sea beast was discovered Sunday in the headwaters of the Homosassa River, according to the Citru County Chronicle.
Craig Cavanna, senior officer with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed that federal officials were investigating who was behind harassing the manatee.
He said harassment of a manatee, a sea creature protected by the endangered species act, is a class A, federal criminal offense punishable by a $50,000 fine and up to a year in federal prison.
The West Indian manatee is a slow-moving, warm-blooded mammal, frequently spotted in Florida’s coastal waters. They often seek sanctuary in the spring-fed waters along Citrus County’s coastline where they regularly interact with swimmers and boaters.
Cavanna said it is uncommon for locals to harass the manatee.
“It’s been my experience that this is very out of character for this community,” Cavanna said. “Wildlife conservation is a core value in Citrus County. That’s why it’s called the Nature Coast.”
Investigators encourage anyone with information to call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 888-404-FWCC (3922).