As if things couldn’t get any more insane this month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the harassment of a manatee with “Trump” scratched into its back, the agency confirmed on Monday.
The defaced manatee was found swimming in the Blue Hole headwaters in north Florida by a woman named Hailey Warrington on Sunday; it is not clear how the letters were written.
Manatees, also known as “sea cows,” have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1963, along with the Marine Mammal Protection Act. This manatee was identified as a West Indian manatee, which is also classified as a threatened species under U.S. wildlife protection laws.
Thankfully, U.S. officials claim that the manatee does not appear to be seriously injured. Though the harassment of manatees is considered a federal offense with a fine of up to $50,000 with the possibility of one year in prison.
The Center of Biological Diversity is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction in the case.
“Manatees aren’t billboards, and people shouldn’t be messing with these sensitive and imperiled animals for any reason,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center of Biological Diversity in a press release. “However this political graffiti was put on this manatee, it’s a crime to interfere with these creatures, which are protected under multiple federal laws.”
The defacement came days after Trump supporters breached the Capitol building and terrorized lawmakers in the process of counting electoral votes.
Anyone with information can call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation hotline at (888) 404-3922.