After years on the endangered species list, there is good news for manatees. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the sea mammal’s population has recovered enough to be reclassified as a “threatened” species. But is this really “good news?” The Pacific Legal Foundation, representing a group of recreational boaters, tour operators, dive shops and hotels in Crystal River on the Florida Gulf Coast, began petitions for the reclassification eight years ago. Two lawsuits and much lobbying later, they have achieved their goal.
Just what is the difference between “endangered” and “threatened?” The former means the species is in imminent risk of extinction; the latter means they could become endangered in the foreseeable future. Boating, waterfront development, and red tides are still a threat. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, recorded 830 manatee deaths in 2013. Deaths declined in 2014 to 371 and 405 between Jan 1 and Dec. 31, 2015.
According to the Save the Manatee Club’s most recent aerial survey in February, 2015, at least 6,063 mammals live in Florida. Considering that number and the number of deaths yearly, it strikes me they are still in imminent risk of extinction. Do you agree?
You can order a manatee specialty plate at myfloridaspecialtyplate.com/order-now.html for $25. Revenue is deposited in the Save the Manatee Trust Fund created within the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
fish and wildlife commission myfwc.com/manatee