Taylor Martin and Seth Stephenson of Brevard County, Fla. were sentenced to probation, fined and ordered to perform community service on Wednesday during a federal court hearing for harassing a mother manatee and her calf last year reported Wesh.com.
The men, both 22 years-old, videoed their foolishness and posted it on social media, as they lured the manatees towards a dock with a fresh water hose. When they had a visual of the mother, the men tried to jump on her back and could be heard in the video yelling “jump” and laughing.
Both men pleaded guilty in March. United States Fish and Wildlife Service officers were at the courthouse and hope that this serves as a reminder to everyone how serious an offense it is to bother these beautiful creatures.
In addition to probation, the men were fined $3,000 and will be serving 175 hours of community service in a wildlife facility. They are also required to write an apology letter and post it on social media.
Let’s hope they learned a lesson. The judge told the young men had the manatees been harmed by the men jumping, the men would be going to federal prison. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation:
“The manatee is protected under federal law by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and by the Endangered Species Act of 1973, which make it illegal to harass, hunt, capture or kill any marine mammal. The manatee is also protected by the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978, which states: “It is unlawful for any person, at any time, intentionally or negligently, to annoy, molest, harass, or disturb any manatee.”
Anyone convicted of violating this state law faces a possible maximum fine of $500 and/or imprisonment for up to 60 days. Conviction on the federal level is punishable by fine of up to $50,000 and/or one year in prison. The State of Florida can pursue prosecution under federal law in circumstances of extreme harassment, resulting in the death or injury of a manatee.”
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