Man faces charges for harassing manatee calf
FOX 4 News - Investigators with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) filed charges with the State Attorney’s Office regarding a violation of the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act.
Ryan Waterman of Ft. Pierce allegedly approached a manatee calf in Taylor Creek in St. Lucie County in January.
FWC investigators received a tip from a citizen regarding pictures that Waterman had posted on Facebook. The pictures show Waterman and two young children petting a manatee calf. They also show Waterman lifting the calf partially out of the water. One image even shows a child sitting on top of the manatee.
The State Attorney agreed with the charges filed by FWC Investigators and subsequently a warrant was issued for Waterman’s arrest.
The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act stipulates that it is illegal to injure, harm, harass, capture or attempt to capture a Florida manatee.
An interaction that may seem harmless and innocent may ultimately have serious consequences for manatees and other wildlife.
“This was a young manatee which was likely still dependant on its mother for food and protection,” said FWC manatee biologist Dr. Thomas Reinert. “Separating the two could have severe consequences for the calf.”
The FWC asks anyone who witnesses manatee harassment or finds a dead or distressed manatee to please call the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC.