CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials say they are investigating after the word “Trump” was found written into the back of a manatee in Florida.
The manatee was discovered in Homosassa Springs on Sunday by a diver named Hailey Warrington. Warrington told NewsNation affiliate WFLA she thought the scrape marks were most likely made with fingernails. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service later said in a statement to NewsNation it appears it was written in algae, and that the animal does not appear to be seriously injured.
The Center for Biological Diversity announced Monday it was offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
The center said officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Florida’s Fish and Wildlife began their investigation immediately.
“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,” said Aurelia Skipwith, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is aware of this incident and is working closely with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. If you have any information regarding this case, please call our wildlife crime tips hotline at 1-844-397-8477 or email us at FWS_TIPS@FWS.GOV.”
Manatees are protected under the Endangered Species Act and under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Federal officials said the manatee seen in the photograph is a subspecies of the West Indian manatee.
Anyone with information can call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation hotline at (888) 404-3922.