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Manatee Defenders Having A Cow Over Downlisting

U.S. game officials want to lower the iconic West Indian manatee's status from endangered to threatened, citing dramatic population gains.
U.S. game officials want to lower the iconic West Indian manatee's status from endangered to threatened, citing dramatic population gains.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is hearing from thousands of Floridians who don’t want the West Indian manatee down-listed from endangered to threatened.

U.S. game officials want to lower the iconic West Indian manatee's status from endangered to threatened, citing dramatic population gains.
U.S. game officials want to lower the iconic West Indian manatee's status from endangered to threatened, citing dramatic population gains.

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and other Democratic members of the Florida congressional delegation are speaking out against the proposal. Opponents worry it’s too soon to ease protections.

Manatee population estimates have risen from 1,200 in the 1970s to more than 6,000 today. But Florida Wildlife Federation president Manley Fuller says a prolonged freeze or a toxic algae bloom could change that significantly.

“The manatee’s ultimate fate is going to relate to the habitat that it requires and we’re putting all kinds of pressure on those habitats.”

Fuller says the Wildlife Federation has not decided whether to sue if the manatee is down-listed, but he expects lawsuits either way.

Copyright 2016 WFSU