If the US Fish and Wildlife service get their way, manatees could soon be taken off the endangered species list.
The US Fish and Wildlife service recently announced that they would like the sea cow to be reclassified as threatened instead of endangered. However, while federal wildlife officials insist that protective measures will remain in place, conservationists are not happy with the decision.
At this moment, the decision is merely proposed. The service is requesting public comment for 90 days, asking “scientific or technical information that will aid the agency in reaching its final decision” to be submitted, according to the US Fish & Wildlife's press release.
According to the US Fish and Wildlife, the manatee population is estimated to be around 13,000, with 6,300 in Florida alone. That’s a 500 percent increase from 1991, when the population was approximated as 1,267.
A report from the Miami Herald expressed the concerns of many conservationists who are afraid that the move will instigate a pattern throughout the entire state. The manatee population went backwards between 2010 and 2013. During that time, over 2,400 of the animals were killed. Other points of concern include the fact that Department of Environmental Protection’s staff and budget has been cut, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission are behind on management plans, state environmental enforcements cases dropped 68 percent in 2013, and an outdated 2007 recovery plan has yet to be revised.
The US Fish and Wildlife service reportedly used comprehensive computer models to calculate that the risk of extinction for the manatee is at a mere 2.5 percent odds. However, conservationists emphasized, according to the Miami Herald, those models did not factor in deaths from the cold snap in 2010.
An open hearing will be held at the Buena Vista Palace Convention Center in Orlando on February 20, from 1:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., reports News 13.