Good News for Manatees!
Wildlife Commission Defers Status Change and
Requests Review of State Classification System
|Photo © David R. Schrichte
Recently, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) deferred the manatee’s status change from Endangered to Threatened. They also directed their staff to undertake a review of the flawed state classification system for ALL imperiled species.
Citing the need for a better method to estimate the manatee population and the record 417 manatee deaths in 2006, Governor Charlie Crist asked the FWC to reject the status change and the Commissioners complied. ''We need to protect these gentle creatures,'' said Governor Crist in a recent interview with the The Miami Herald.
An outpouring of support from the public encouraged the governor. FWC staff reported that the governor’s office received over 28,000 messages on manatees and the majority of them were in favor of keeping manatees designated as Endangered.
Photo © David R. Schrichte
The commission's decision to defer the manatee's status change followed the release of the World Conservation Union's (IUCN) 2007 Red List of Threatened Species in September. The manatee has been classified as Endangered on the 2007 IUCN Red List, which projects a downward population trend for the aquatic mammals.
The state of Florida modified its classification system in 1999 to incorporate the listing criteria of the IUCN, a world authority on endangered species, except for one critical difference: The FWC did not properly align the IUCN’s risk category definitions with the IUCN’s category names. The IUCN’s “Critically Endangered” category became the FWC’s “Endangered” category, and the IUCN’s “Endangered” category became FWC’s “Threatened” category. If the FWC had adopted the IUCN classification system without modification, the manatee would continue to meet the criteria for "Endangered" status in Florida.
Florida's classification system has been objected to by numerous scientists worldwide, and environmental groups have continually called the listing/delisting rule language greatly flawed. Further, environmentalists point to the state’s own findings that 50% of the statewide manatee population could be lost in the next 45 years from rising threats to its long-term survival.
Patrick Rose, Executive Director of Save the Manatee Club, expressed his deep appreciation to Governor Crist and applauded the Commission for their action. "We don't see this decision as winning or losing," said Rose. "We see this an an opportunity for a lasting solution for manatees and Florida's other imperiled species.
Heartfelt thanks to YOU for all you’ve done for manatees and Florida's other imperiled species! Please take a couple of minutes to thank Governor Charlie Crist and the FWC Commission for their strong support of manatees:
Governor Charlie Crist
PL-05 The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
Florida Fish and Wildlife
620 South Meridian Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600
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