At what point should an animal be removed from the endangered list? In my own home state of Florida, black bears listed as threatened were rewarded for a rebound in population numbers with a one-week hunt. The issue of 3200 hunting permits for the taking of 300 bears in a one week hunt of the estimated 2,640 statewide was overkill, pardon my pun. The hunt quota was filled in only two days. With those odds, is it any wonder? It’s hard to argue with the logic of our state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Thomas Eason, the commission’s director of habitat and species conservation recently said, “We’re having more bears born and surviving than are dying.” Wow. Perfectly reasonable criteria for granting hunting permits. The commission is considering another hunt in 2016.
Lovers of large mammals will be aggrieved to learn the gentle manatee is the conservators’ next target. The “sea cow” is now being considered for removal from the Endangered Species List.
With encouragement from the federal government, which recently proposed dropping the sea mammal from the list, the commission is now zeroing in on the manatee, not with a hunt, but by removing its protection. If you do any boating in South Florida or the Caribbean, you will be hard pressed to find a manatee without numerous gashes in its flesh from propellers of speeding boats.
According to Savethemanatee.org, there were 6,250 Florida manatees documented in the February, 2016 aerial survey. In 2015 there were 405 deaths in the state of Florida waters, some from red tides, most from boat encounters. Tell me this gentle, slow-moving sirenian is not in danger. Better yet, tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. At least they’re asking for input from the public. Go to www.regulations.gov and post a comment. Unfortunately, I learned yesterday the deadline for comments is 11:59 P. M., April 7. Please act fast. Manatees can’t.