Photo by: Hailey Warrington, a boat captain for a fishing charter company in Crystal River, Fla.
Yesterday, the Center for Biological Diversity offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person or persons responsible for the cruel and illegal mutilation of a threatened Florida manatee in north Florida’s Homosassa River.
“It’s heartbreaking that this manatee was subjected to this vile, criminal act,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida Director of the Center, in a statement. “It’s clear that whoever harmed this defenseless, gentle giant, is capable of doing grave violence and needs to be apprehended immediately.”
Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission began investigating the crime after the manatee was discovered Sunday with serious scarring in the form of the president’s name on its back.
Protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1963, manatees are slow-moving plant eaters with no natural predators. Sadly, boat mortality accounts for an estimated 20% of manatee deaths.
Harassment of a manatee is a federal criminal offense punishable by a $50,000 fine and up to one year in prison.
Anyone with information can call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation hotline at (888) 404-3922.
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