Photo via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Facebook
Plans to reclassify Florida manatees from a status of "endangered" to "threatened" are underway, and now is your chance to speak up if you have something to say.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
will hold a public meeting about the reclassification of the species on Saturday, Feb. 20 at Buena Vista Palace Convention Center
Federal wildlife officials will discuss their plans to reclassify Florida manatees from their current status of "endangered." As of late, Florida manatee reclassification is a bit of a hot topic, pitting boating and property rights advocates against the nonprofit Save the Manatee Club
and other conservation groups, according to Florida Today
Plans to reclassify manatees were announced
by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in early January, and the public has until April 7 to share their input. The service expects to publish the final rule to reclassify the species within a year, Florida Today reported.
The meeting will be held in The Great Hall at Buena Vista Palace, where an informational open house will take place from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., and a formal public hearing from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
According to population modeling by the U.S. Geological Survey
, if current threats for the nation's southeastern manatee population remain constant, there is less than 2.5 percent chance the population will fall below 4,000 over the next 100 years.
Since last February, it was recorded that there are 6,063 manatees in Florida.