U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, FWC Are Going After Manatee Riders
Depending on where you come down on the whole animal-rights thing, you probably watched the video of Florida's finest d-bags jumping onto some innocent manatees with something between shock and rage. This week we posted the vid, some dumpster-grade Jackassery courtesy of two Cocoa Beach brainiacs. Thankfully, the federales have shown up to exert some big government-style enforcement. Which is great and all, but FLORIDA, YOU SHOULD ALREADY KNOW NOT TO RIDE THE POOR MANATEES.
In a press release shot out Wednesday, the government agencies announced they were going to start their gumshoe work on the YouTube video. They also indicated the timing of the footage may complicate a state prosecution.
"The statute of limitations for the state is one year, which may bar state prosecution, as this event appears to have occurred over a year and a half ago," the press release reads. "Possible violations under the federal Endangered Species Act (which has a five year statute of limitations) could include 'take.' The act defines 'take' to mean 'to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct.'"
But the state might as well open up a new bureau dedicated solely to these kinds of investigations. The Wednesday release did not mention this week's SECOND viral manatee molestation video.
That clip, caught by WFLA from the skies over Fiesta Key, shows a woman trying to ride off into the sunset on the adorkably cute marine mammal. Which reminds us, FLORIDA, YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO RIDE THE MANATEES.
In yesterday's release, the government put the possible penalties out there in tough talk: "Any person who knowingly violates the take prohibition may be subject to criminal penalties of up to $100,000, or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both."
The fact that PEOPLE SHOULD NOT RIDE THE MANATEES isn't just about being a buzzkill; the endangered species is facing record-setting deaths, with 409 dying in the first three months of 2013 alone. Cold weather, poisonous algae, and terrible, terrible humans are responsible.