MAY BE POSTPONED
CONTACT: Henry Cabbage (850) 488-8843
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) staff will
recommend to its Commissioners to postpone possible downlisting of manatees
from "endangered" to "threatened." Commissioners had
scheduled action on the downlisting proposal for their Jan. 22-24 meeting
at Ft. Myers.
FWC executive director, Kenneth Haddad, said deciding the issue now would
further polarize the public at a time when various factions are arguing
and litigating to increase or decrease manatee protection efforts. Also,
he said experts who reviewed the FWC’s manatee biological status
review did not reach a consensus, and concerned parties have not had time
to review a refined draft of the document, which concludes manatees no
longer qualify as endangered under the FWC’s criteria.
Meanwhile, the FWC is reconvening a panel to re-evaluate the listing process.
Haddad said another good reason to postpone the decision is that many
interested parties on both sides of the issue are in favor of the delay,
although for different reasons. Some would like more time to build their
case for retaining the endangered classification, M O R E while others
hope to convince officials that manatees should be classified in the"species
of special concern" category. That listing category would acknowledge
that manatees require special management attention while not suggesting
the species is in imminent danger of extinction within the next century.
Regardless of the listing category, manatee protection efforts are based
on a management plan that is rooted in the species’ needs. Protection
efforts will not change automatically if the species’ classification
changes or even if it were removed from the imperiled species list altogether.
FWC staff has not decided on a timeline for reconsidering the downlisting
Manatees also are listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
and that agency has no announced plans to reconsider its classification
of manatees under federal criteria.
P.O. Box 296, Estero, FL 33928 E-mail
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