State Agency Postpones Endangered
Manatee’s Reclassification

Urge Governor Crist to Revisit Florida's
Rule Criteria for Imperiled Species

The Issue:

Good news for manatees! Following urging by Save the Manatee Club, Florida Governor Charlie Crist requested the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) postpone their vote on downlisting manatees. On September 12th, the FWC voted to delay downgrading the manatee's status from endangered to threatened.

Calling the manatee "one of our state's beloved natural resources," in a letter issued to the commissioners on Monday, September 10th, Governor Crist urged them to postpone their decision given the need for a better method to estimate the manatee population and the record 417 manatee deaths in 2006. The FWC decided to defer the decision on downlisting manatees until at least their December meeting in Key Largo, FL.
Photo © David R. Schrichte

The commission's decision to delay downlisting the manatee in Florida came on the heels of the release of the World Conservation Union's (IUCN) 2007 Red List of Threatened Species. The manatee has been upgraded to Endangered status on the 2007 IUCN Red List, which projects a downward population trend for the aquatic mammals.

Ironically, 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.

Patrick Rose, Save the Manatee Club’s Executive Director, applauds Governor Crist and expresses his deep appreciation to the governor for his action. Pat also thanks all of you for your help in making this happen. Those e-mails, letters and phone calls DO help!

What You Can Do:

Heartfelt thanks to YOU for all you’ve done so far! Your help has made a huge difference by getting the governor to stand up for manatees. But our work is not yet done. We need to urge the governor to hold the line for manatees and Florida's other imperiled species. Here's what you can do:

  1. Please take a moment to contact Governor Crist. Thank him for asking the Commission to postpone their vote to downlist manatees and urge him to revisit Florida's listing/delisting rule criteria for imperiled species. Remind him that Florida's classification system has been objected to by numerous scientists worldwide and is currently based on listing/delisting rule language that environmental groups have called greatly flawed. Be sure to mention that the IUCN - World Conservation Union has just upgraded manatees to "Endangered" status using the same criteria that the FWC is using to downlist manatees from "Endangered" to "Threatened" status in Florida. Let the governor know that when a species meets the Endangered criteria, they need to be called "Endangered," not "Threatened." Get a summary of the state downlisting issue (pdf).

    Governor Charlie Crist
    PL-05 The Capitol
    Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
    Phone: 850-488-7146
    Fax: 850-487-0801

  2. Please make a donation online now to help us with our upcoming efforts on this issue (or you can call us at 1-800-432-5646). Save the Manatee Club will continue to work hard to improve the flawed state criteria for manatees and other imperiled species in Florida.

Thank you so much for your help and support for manatees!

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