The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the harassment of a manatee discovered with the word “Trump” etched into its back, officials said Monday.
Hailey Warrington found the manatee swimming on Sunday in the Blue Hole headwaters in North Florida. The defacement “is just disturbing. One hundred percent disturbing,” she said.
The president’s last name may have been written in algae on the marine mammal’s back, the Center for Biological Diversity told USA TODAY on Monday night, an act prohibited under the Endangered Species Act.
“Manatees aren’t billboards, and people shouldn’t be messing with these sensitive and imperiled animals for any reason,” Jaclyn Lopez, the center’s Florida director, said in a statement. She called it “political graffiti.”
“The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is investigating the harassment of a manatee…reported to federal authorities over the weekend discovered w/ words "Trump" scraped in its back …discovered in Blue Hole on the Homosassa River” (via @CitrusChronicle )— ??????? ???? (@exavierpope) January 11, 2021
Insurrectioning wildlife? pic.twitter.com/PvzI3pZ5Xn
Manatees, nicknamed “sea cows” because they eat seagrasses and other aquatic plants, are considered “threatened” by the Fish and Wildlife Service, after previously being classified as “endangered” until 2017.
“This abhorrent action goes beyond the bounds of what is considered cruel and inhumane,” Elizabeth Fleming, a senior Florida representative at Defenders of Wildlife, said in a statement. “I’m disgusted that someone would harm a defenseless creature to send what I can only assume is a political message. We will do everything in our power to help find, arrest and successfully prosecute this coward.”
Source: USA Today