Perhaps some of you may remember me mentioning the plight of the Florida manatee a few months back, specifically that their status as an endangered species was being petitioned by the powerful boating lobby. This would have meant that many of the special protections that manatees enjoyed, such as existing in boat-free zones and making boats slow down in the presence of manatees, would have been changed. Well, against my hopes, I have good news to report, as told to me by the SaveTheManatee Club:
Good news for manatees! [On Sept 14th], the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 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, Florida Governor Charlie 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 the Dec. 5-6 meeting in Key Largo, FL.
This is at least encouraging, although a final decision has not yet been made. Governor Crist’s full letter is here, if you care to read it. The govenor cites these reasons for not downgrading the manatee’s status: poor methods of estimating the population of the manatees and the record 417 manatee deaths (!!) in 2006. Crist seemed to want to postpone the final evaluation until more data could be accumulated on the manatee’s status and numbers, effectively delaying the decision until at least the Dec 5-6 meeting of the Federal Wildlife Commission.