U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Ignores Ongoing Threats and Proposes to Downlist Entire West Indian Manatee Species
Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposed to reclassify the West Indian manatee from endangered to threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. Save the Manatee Club does not believe it is appropriate to reclassify manatees at this time. It is completely unclear why FWS feels justified in downlisting the entire species since the agency's own 12-month finding cites that "population trends are declining or unknown in 84 percent of the countries where manatees are found." The FWS should not move forward with downlisting Florida manatees without a proven, viable plan for further reducing mortality and preserving vital warm water habitat and establishing recovery benchmarks in an updated Recovery Plan.
The FWS decision for Florida is largely based on a computer model that does not include two recent, massive die-offs of hundreds of manatees. The manatee population suffered catastrophic losses from prolonged cold snaps and toxic red tide blooms from 2010 through 2013. The computer model also does not deal with loss of habitat due to waterfront development. In addition, there is no long-term plan for the anticipated loss of artificial winter warm water habitat on which more than 60% of the Florida manatee population depends.
Please read more about why Save the Manatee Club is opposed to reclassification at this time.
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