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Viral Video Of Manatee With ‘Trump’ Carved Into Its Back Sparks Federal Investigation

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The disturbing discovery of a manatee in Florida over the weekend with the word “TRUMP” scraped or carved onto its back  sparked an investigation.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is looking for the person or persons responsible for defacing the marine mammal that was found in the headwaters of the Homosassa River in western Florida, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico.

A video of the manatee posted by New York Magazine‘s Yashar Ali—which you can watch below—has gone viral.

According to the Citrus County Chronicle, Craig Cavanna—a senior federal wildlife officer and current investigating officer—said the harassment of the manatee is a Class A federal criminal offense punishable by a $50,000 fine and/or up to one-year in federal prison. Manatees are protected by the Endangered Species Act.

Cavanna told the news outlet:

“I cannot comment on a current, ongoing investigation.”

Twitter user Eric Feigl-Ding expressed concern for the mammal and urged people to aid in the search for the persons responsible.

@DrEricDing/Twitter
@DrEricDing/Twitter

People were enraged over the harassment of the docile creature in the name of the soon-to-be former President.

 

There was some discussion online as to whether or not the animal was physically harmed by the etching.

One user wrote:

“Scraped, not carved. As in, removed the dirt and algae off of its back.

“Still illegal, but let’s be clear for the people panicking in the comments that the manatee appears to not have been physically harmed at all.”

The Miami Herald noted:

“It was unclear how the word was applied, whether it had been scraped on the algae that often grows on the backs of the slow-moving sea cows, or drawn in some other way.”

After people presumed the manatee was “tortured” and “mutilated” Christina Meister from the USFWS’s public affairs office clarified in an email statement.

She wrote:

“The manatee does not appear to be seriously injured as it seems that the word was written in algae on the animal’s back.”

However, the report maintained the act still was a clear violation of the laws meant to protect the threatened aquatic mammals from harassment.

Federal laws protect the West Indian manatee since they are prone to harassment by swimmers and those operating vessels along the Nature Coast.

The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978 states:

“It is unlawful for any person, at any time, intentionally or negligently, to annoy, molest, harass, or disturb any manatee.”

Because the mammals cannot endure water temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit for long periods of time, they seek sanctuary in peninsular Florida like the spring-fed waters along Citrus County’s coastline during the cold winter months.

Cavanna said of the denizens of Citrus County:

“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.”

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 888-404-FWCC (3922). Information will be forward to the USFWS.

Koh Mochizuki

Written by Koh Mochizuki

Koh Mochizuki is a New York-based actor and writer. Originally hailing from Los Angeles, he received his B.A. in English literature and is fluent in Japanese. Disney parks are his passion, and endless cups of coffee are a necessity. Instagram: kohster Twitter: @kohster1