HOMOSASSA SPRINGS, Fla. — Perhaps a few thousands of dollars more could help lead to whoever marked "Trump" onto the back of a Florida manatee.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund on Tuesday announced it is offering an additional $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for inscribing the name of the ex-president.
Hailey Warrington took pictures and video of the animal in January during a manatee swim tour in shallow water in Homosassa Springs. At the time, she said she was "distraught" at seeing the docile manatee.
It appeared "Trump" was written in algae on the manatee's back and not actually carved onto it. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission previously said the incident was under investigation.
"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,” Animal Legal Defense Fund executive director Stephen Wells said in a statement.
The organization's offer of a $5,000 reward brings its total to $8,000. The Center for Biological Diversity, a national conversation program, also had announced a $5,000 reward.
So, too, did actor Dave Bautista on Twitter to the sum of $20,000 and then some.
The West Indian manatee is protected by Florida state and federal law, including the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. It is "illegal to harass, hunt, capture or kill any marine mammal," according to the FWC.
A person convicted of violating state law faces a maximum fine of $500 and/or imprisonment for up to 60 days. The penalty increases if a person is found in violation of federal law: a fine of up to $50,000 and/or a year in prison.
Anyone with information about the incident can call the FWC's 24-hour Wildlife Alert Number at 1-888-404-3922.
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