BEACON TRANSCRIPT – The U.S. wildlife authorities consider the manatee as no longer in danger of extinction. After big increases in their populations and an improvement in the ecosystems where they live, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to move the manatee from the endangered status to threatened. Needless to say, some people are not happy about this.
Some environment officials think that the manatee did not escape danger altogether. The Center for Biological Diversity marked 2016 as the deadliest year for manatees. The Florida director of the center, Jaclyn Lopez, says that people should not reduce the protection that the manatees need. A possible loss of their habitat and constant boat strikes are still a big threat for the creatures.
Downgrading the manatee to celebrate a victory
However, the change in the status of the manatees did not come out of nowhere. It was meant to celebrate a milestone. Their population reached 13,000 specimens in the Caribbean and southeastern U.S. This population gathers equally both Florida and Antillean manatees. This is a huge progress, as the species was once dangerously close to extinction.
Now, the Florida manatee population sums up 6,620 specimens. During the 1970s, there were only several hundred creatures which populated the waters around Florida. This is when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to add the manatee on the endangered list. It entered the list in 1973.
Thus, Jim Kurth, the acting director of the service, declared that they decided to lower the status of the creature to celebrate the great victory they had achieved.
“Today we both recognize the significant progress we have made in conserving manatee populations while reaffirming our commitment to continuing this species’ recovery and success throughout its range.”
Criticizing this move
As expected, there are many who oppose the decision of downgrading manatees. Congressman Vern Buchanan believes that this action might put the manatees in more danger. Indeed, they will still receive the federal protection they need, but some special conservation actions are needed.
The environmental groups agree. Manatees still have to face a lot of threats, both environmental, as well as dangers produced by humans. Therefore, they urge the officials to reconsider their decision. They should not avoid offering manatees all the protection they need. Their populations might have been restored for now, but they did not escape the threat completely.
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