Florida and Puerto Rican manatees may be removed from 'endangered species list'

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A West Indian manatee and her baby.

The Unites States Fish and Wildlife Service or USFWS has announced that the Florida and Puerto Rican manatee will most likely be removed from the Endangered Species List and have their status upgraded to "threatened."

The announcement was made in the USFWS's 5-year review of the manatee. In the review, the manatees were found to have "increased in numbers" over the last 40 years and that there were no new threats posed to the mammals.

In the section of the report that is called the 1996 Distinct Population Segment or [DPS], the review states "the species under review" is "not listed as a DPS" and that "there [is no] relevant new information that would lead us to consider listing manatees in Florida as a DPS in accordance with the 1996 policy."

"If there isn't any other message in this report, it's that recovery is attainable. We just believe it fits the definition of threatened better than it fits the definition of endangered," said the Fish and Wildlife Service's supervisor for the field, Dave Hankla.

"Based on the science, it is clear that manatees are no longer facing extinction in all or a significant portion of its range," added Hankla.

An endangered species is usually considered a species which are very likely to become extinct immediately. Threatened species can usually be saved if large measures to protect them are immediately taken.

Scientists were also able to get a close count to the exact numbers of manatees that are currently living off Florida's coast and in the waterways of Florida to 2,812. Only 1,267 were found to be living in Florida's waters in 1991.