Manatees downgraded from ‘endangered’ to ‘threatened’ species

In Science
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Manatees – those comically blimp-like “sea cows” whose gentle, lumbering ways also made them susceptible to the threats that nearly killed them off as a species – are no longer endangered.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday that it would downgrade the West Indian manatee from “endangered” to “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.

The reclassification marked an astounding rebound for the animals, which hovered on the brink of extinction when they were first listed as endangered in 1973. Then, only a few hundred manatees remained. Today, there are an estimated 6,620 Florida manatees, a subspecies of the West Indian manatee, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

“While there is still more work to be done to fully recover manatee populations, particularly in the Caribbean, manatee numbers are increasing and we are actively working with partners to address threats,” Jim Kurth, the federal agency’s acting director, said in a statement.

US Fish and Wildlife tweeted: #WildlifeWin! Thanks to working together, increases in habitat & population, manatees are now listed as threatened.

However, some animal groups and others protested the federal agency’s decision, saying the manatee’s removal from the endangered list could lead to greater threats to the species in the long run.

Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., called it “HUGELY disappointing” and promised to reach out to Interior Secretary .



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