A manatee was found with the word “TRUMP” scrawled on its back in a Florida swimming hole, prompting an investigation from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, reports said Monday.
The defenseless animal was spotted with the political inscription over the weekend in the Blue Hole headwaters of the Homosassa River in Citrus County — about 80 miles northwest of Orlando, the Citrus County Chronicle reported.
Witnesses reported the animal to federal authorities, the outlet said.
“It’s been my experience that this is very out of character for this community,” Craig Cavanna, a senior federal wildlife officer in charge of the investigation, told the outlet.
“Wildlife conservation is a core value in Citrus County. That’s why it’s called the Nature Coast.”
Cavana said harassment of manatees, which are protected by the Endangered Species Act, is a Class A federal crime that carried a $50,000 fine and/or up to a year in federal prison, the outlet reported.
Cavana and his team are hunting for the person, or people, responsible for the manatee descretation and are currently “following leads,” he told the outlet.
The slow-moving, indolent creatures migrate to the spring-fed waters along the county’s western coastline seasonally and are easily accessible to people on boats or swimmers, the outlet reported.
The USFWS is asking anyone with information to come forward by calling 800-404-FWCC.