The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have launched an investigation into the incident after witnesses reported seeing the animal Sunday at the headwaters of the Homosassa River Blue Hole in Citrus County.
The manatee's video shows large letters scribbled on its back as the president's name.
Here is the video of the poor manatee that had "TRUMP" carved into its body.— Yashar Ali ? (@yashar) January 11, 2021
Minding it's own business and some monster(s) came along and did this.
If you have information on the person(s) who committed this federal crime please call 888-404-3922 https://t.co/maOImIxQS0 pic.twitter.com/Yx2qaGhFXe
"In my experience, this is very uncharacteristic of this community," Craig Cavanna, the lead federal wildlife officer leading the investigation, told the Citrus County Chronicle.
The researchers are looking for any information on who is responsible for the mutilation of the animal.
The Center for Biological Diversity's animal protection group said Monday that it is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person or persons responsible.
"It is a shame that this manatee has been subjected to this heinous criminal act," Jacqueline Lopez, director of the Florida Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.
"It is clear that whoever has harmed this defenseless and gentle giant is capable of committing serious acts of violence and must be stopped immediately.
According to the Citrus County Chronicle, warm-blooded mammals seasonally migrate to the county's west coast springs, making them easily accessible to swimmers and boaters.
Manatees are protected by the Endangered Species Act, and harassment of the species is a federal crime punishable by a $50,000 fine and up to one year in jail.