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Manatees No Longer Considered Endangered

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The population of Florida’s iconic manatees has recovered enough that the species no longer meets the definition of “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act, federal wildlife officials said Thursday. image The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have proposed relisting the slow-moving, speed bump-shaped marine mammals as a “threatened” species, which would not change any current protections for manatees. “Based on the best available scientific information, we believe the manatee is no longer in danger of extinction,” Michael Oetker, deputy regional director for the wildlife service, said at a news conference at the Miami Seaquarium, which has rescued, rehabilitated and released manatees back into the wild for decades. An “endangered” listing means the species is in imminent risk of extinction, while “threatened” means they could become endangered in the foreseeable future — an improvement wildlife officials likened to moving manatees from intensive care into a rehabilitation facility.  The proposed reclassification reflects state, local and federal collaborations that have increased the abundance and health of manatees, said Ernie Marks, regional director for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.  Florida’s manatee population has grown from several hundred in 1967 to more than 6,000 counted last year in an annual statewide survey.  Wildlife and manatee advocates say the proposal to relist manatees as a threatened species ignores ongoing threats to their survival.

From AP

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