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Two men plead guilty after video shows them harassing Florida manatees

Source: Reuters - Fri, 7 Mar 2014 22:39 GMT
Author: Reuters
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MIAMI, March 7 (Reuters) - Two men pleaded guilty to harassing an endangered species after a video on Facebook showed them luring manatees to a dock and jumping on them, prosecutors said on Friday.

Taylor Blake Martin and Seth Andrew Stephenson, both 22, face up to a year in prison and a $50,000 fine, according to the U.S. Attorney's office in Orlando. A sentencing date has not been set.

Manatees are protected under state and federal laws. The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act prohibits molesting or disturbing manatees, which are classified as endangered in Florida.

According to prosecutors, the video showed Stephenson attracting the manatees with a water hose to a boat dock in Cocoa Beach, Florida, and then Martin jumping on an adult manatee and a calf. The men were charged after an investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (Reporting by Kevin Gray)

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