manatee

Press Release

$5,000 Added to Reward Offer in “Trump” Manatee Case

Animal Legal Defense Fund increases reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for harassing manatee in Citrus County, Florida

Contact: media@aldf.org

CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, is offering an additional $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for writing “Trump” on a manatee in Citrus County, Florida. The reward now totals up to $8,000. On Sunday, January 10th, a West Indian manatee was discovered swimming in Florida’s Homosassa River with the word “Trump” on their back. According to officials, the word appears to be written in algae and not carved into the manatee’s back. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently working closely with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on investigating this matter.

“It’s troubling that someone has interfered with a threatened species and there are laws in place to prevent this type of incident. We hope the additional reward will reinvigorate the case — and a witness will come forward,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “We commend the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for their continued attention to this case and we’re hopeful that the local community will come forward with any information they have regarding this crime.”

Manatees are considered a threatened species and are protected under the Endangered Species and the Marine Mammal Protection Acts. Under both federal laws, it is illegal to harass, wound, or annoy manatees. “Harassment” includes any act that potentially injures or disturbs an animal or causes a disruption to an animal’s normal behavior.

The maximum penalty for violating the Endangered Species Act is up to one-year imprisonment or a fine of $50,000, or both. The maximum penalty for violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act is up to one-year imprisonment or a fine of $100,000, or both.

If you have information related to this incident, please contact Crime Stoppers of Citrus County at 888-ANY-TIPS or crimestopperscitrus.com. All tips will remain anonymous.

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