In January 2000, Save the Manatee Club, et al., a national coalition of 19 environmental and animal protection groups, filed two federal lawsuits demanding sweeping changes in the business-as-usual attitude of the federal and the Florida state government. The announcement came right on the heels of statistics released by the state of Florida showing record-setting watercraft-related manatee mortality.
Named as defendants in the first suit in Washington were the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps), Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). A second federal suit in Tallahassee was filed against the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Both suits charged the agencies with failing to protect Florida's endangered manatee population.