Encouraging news, but is it really the right thing to do…now…with Trump on an EPA warpath? All this really means is that manatees & where they live are less protected.
From The Miami Herald:
BY JENNY STALETOVICH
March 30, 2017
The manatee — for decades the poster mammal for environmental decline in Florida — is officially no longer an endangered species.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday that the manatee will instead be designated “threatened” — a status change that reflects a boom in population over the last decade. In February, Florida wildlife managers released preliminary results of an annual count that recorded 6,620 manatees lumbering in the warm waters of Florida’s lagoons, springs and canals.
It was the third consecutive year the estimated population increased — a trend that federal wildlife managers pointed to as a sign of successful recovery for a species that once numbered in the hundreds in Florida waters when they announced plans in 2016 to reclassify the iconic species.
“The Florida manatee population has continued to increase. We see that in the surveys done every winter,” Larry Williams, the agency’s state supervisor, said in a press briefing.
But environmental groups argue the rebound comes along with a growing number of manatee deaths, particularly from boat strikes, and that the manatee’s fate remains uncertain. There is, for instance, a growing trend by manatees to huddle during cooler winter months in artificial habitats created by power plants. If those shut down, there could be major losses.
“We believe this is a devastating blow to manatees,” Patrick Rose, Executive Director for Save the Manatee Club, said in a statement. “A federal reclassification at this time will seriously undermine the chances of securing the manatee’s long- term survival.”