Ryan Waterman has been charged with “molesting a manatee” in Fort Pierce, Florida, because the state forbids interacting with an endangered species.
Waterman published photos this week of himself and two children playing with a manatee calf laying near a shoreline, reports WPTV-TV (video below).
Manatee biologist Dr. Thomas Reinert told the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) that the animal appeared to be suffering from cold-stress syndrome: “Taking the calf out of water may have worsened its situation."
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Monday that investigators got an arrest warrant for Waterman based upon the photos on his Facebook page and charged him with a second-degree misdemeanor.
“This investigation is an example of our commitment to carry out our mission to protect Florida’s natural resources and people through proactive and responsive law enforcement services,” Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Lt. Chris Harris said. “It also demonstrates our efforts to work with federal partners, the general public and the State Attorney’s office to achieve this goal.”