It's an important development for the manatee that could have a tremendous impact on its future as a species.
There’s some very big news for the manatee, and if you love this big graceful water cow, it’s good news as well, as it has been officially removed from the endangered list. That’s thanks to a huge turnaround in the manatee population in Florida since the 1970s, although it doesn’t mean the species is out of the woods yet because it has simply been upgraded to the next category of “threatened.”
The West Indian manatee, as it is called, numbers about 6,000 right now based on a count by Florida officials. But not everyone is happy about the move, as environmental groups are slamming the announcement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as premature and without a long-term plan attached to it.
However, officials counter that the improvement in their listing doesn’t change the protections for the animals, which have been on the list since 1967. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a statement that protection efforts will continue to help manatee populations fully recover, especially in the Caribbean.
“The Fish and Wildlife Service has worked hand in hand with state and local governments, businesses, industry, and countless stakeholders over many years to protect and restore a mammal that is cherished by people around the world,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “Without this type of collaboration and the commitment of state and local partners, this downlisting would not have been possible.”
“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,” said Jim Kurth, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s acting director. “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.”