West Indian Manatee Among Ten Species Imperiled by the Trump Administration, According to New Report

For Immediate Release: December 18, 2018
Contact: Diana Ngai, dngai@savethemanatee.org, (407) 539-0990
Leda Huta, lhuta@endangered.org(202) 320-6467

Note: A high resolution jpeg (300 dpi) image of a manatee is available. (Photo credit: Save the Manatee Club).

Washington, D.C. – As the Trump Administration prepares to finalize a set of rules to weaken the Endangered Species Act, a new report out today lists ten wildlife species threatened by the Administration’s policies. Draft Department of Interior rules designed to make it harder to protect wildlife and important habitat would have negative impact on declining species such as the manatee, two sea turtles, and a rare bumble bee, according to the report, “Extinction Plan: Ten Species Imperiled by the Trump Administration.”

A manatee mother and calf.
A manatee mother and calf.

The report includes the West Indian Manatee, Florida’s iconic, slow-moving marine mammal, which is threatened by record mortality from boat collisions, a catastrophic yearlong red tide, and declining habitat. West Indian manatees were downlisted from endangered to threatened in 2017 and the two years since downlisting have been the worst in history for manatee watercraft deaths.

Save the Manatee Club, a member of the Endangered Species Coalition, nominated the manatee for the report because the species is directly affected by proposed federal rules that will make it more difficult to protect manatee habitat, while the State of Florida continues to miss the mark on water quality issues central to manatee conservation. “Manatees face unprecedented threats to their survival, and need strong protections to secure the species’ future,” said Anne Harvey, Staff Attorney for the Club.

Climate change and habitat loss are two of the biggest drivers of the decline of species like the Pacific leatherback sea turtle, the Humboldt marten, and the western yellow-billed cuckoo. In spite of that, the Trump Administration proposed a series of regulations last summer that would weaken the Endangered Species Act. The proposed rules would:

  • Make it much more difficult to protect species impacted by climate change
  • Create excessive hurdles to list a new species and easier to remove those now on the list
  • Make it harder to designate critical habitat for threatened and endangered wildlife
  • Reduce protections for threatened species

“The Interior Department under President Trump has been especially cozy with the industries that are harming the very wildlife the Department is supposed to protect,” said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “If the Administration has its way, the new regulations will put these species on a fast track to extinction.”

Extinction Plan: Ten Species Imperiled by the Trump Administration:

  • California condor
  • Giraffe
  • Hellbender
  • Humboldt marten
  • Sea turtles: leatherback and loggerhead
  • Red wolf
  • Rusty patched bumble bee
  • San Bernardino Kangaroo Rat
  • West Indian manatee
  • Western Yellow-billed cuckoo

Member groups of the Endangered Species Coalition nominated species for the report. A committee of distinguished scientists reviewed the nominations and decided which species should be included in the final report. The full report, along with photos and additional species information, can be viewed and downloaded at http://endangered.org/extinction-plan.

Although the Administration and some members of Congress have been seeking to weaken the Act, public opinion research indicates that the law continues to maintain broad, bipartisan, public support. A 2015 poll conducted by Tulchin Research found that 90 percent of American voters across all political, regional, and demographic lines support the Endangered Species Act.

The Endangered Species Act was a landmark conservation law that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support: 92-0 in the Senate, and 394-4 in the House, and signed by President Richard Nixon 45 years ago on December 28. In 2017, more than 400 organizations signed a letter to members of Congress opposing efforts to weaken the Endangered Species Act, noting the law has a 99 percent success rate, including some of the country’s most exciting wildlife recoveries, like the bald eagles, humpback whales, American alligators, Channel Island foxes, Tennessee purple coneflowers, and more.

Scientific consensus indicates that we are in the sixth wave of extinction. The main tool in the United States to battle this human-caused crisis is the Endangered Species Act, which has been very effective in keeping species from sliding into extinction.

The Endangered Species Coalition produces a “Top 10” report annually, focusing on a different theme each year. Previous years’ reports are also available on the Coalition’s website.