State lawmakers want manatees listed as ‘endangered’
SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) Some state lawmakers want manatees back on the endangered species list.
Last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the large marine mammal was now considered “threatened” instead of “endangered” because its population had increased. The status upgrade didn’t change any federal rules for manatees.
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Florida, wrote Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke last week, asking him to overturn that decision. According to a statement from the Sarasota Republican’s office, 10 other representatives from Florida from both parties also signed the letter.
The letter said the wildlife service’s decision was “potentially very harmful to the survival of the iconic Florida animal.” It also said state and local officials could consider weakening manatee protections such as slow-speed boating zones because of the wildlife service’s decision.
There’s an estimated population of 6,620 manatees in Florida.