Manatees have made a huge comeback as a result of significant improvements in habitat conditions and threat reduction.
Only about 1,267 West Indian manatees could be found in Florida when surveys began in 1991. Since then, the population has increased 500 percent – to 6,300 in that state and 13,000 overall.
Amidst this positive trend, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Thursday announced its proposal to down-list the status of the manatee from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act– yet keep intact federal commitments to protection that will allow the population fully recover.
“The manatee is one of the most charismatic and instantly recognizable species,” said Michael Bean, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior. “It’s hard to imagine the waters of Florida without them, but that was the reality we were facing before manatees were listed under the Endangered Species Act. While there is still more work to be done to fully recover manatee populations, their numbers are climbing and the threats to the species’ survival are being reduced. Today’s proposal is a positive step that recognizes the progress citizens, conservation groups, the State of Florida, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and our own Service employees have made working together.” Read the rest of the article here.