Following pressure from a conservative legal group along with business interests in Florida, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is considering removing manatees from the endangered species list again.
The interested parties want eventually for the manatee to have no legal protection at all, presumably because this is inconvenient. Right now, they are pushing for the manatee to be relisted as “threatened” rather than “endangered”.
Their case is thin. Based on aerial surveys, which are not particularly reliable, manatee numbers may have increased during the last few years. However, the major threats, including boat collisions, habitat destruction and pollution, remain. Conservation is as important as ever, for the manatees and their ecosystem.
Reclassifying the manatee to appease narrow business interests would be a step backwards. Tell the federal government to keep manatees on the endangered species list.
We the undersigned ask that you do not reclassify manatees as “threatened” rather than “endangered”. While this would have no immediate practical impact, it opens the door for pressure groups to succeed in their aim of removing all protection for the manatee.
There is not enough scientific evidence to validate this relisting. Aerial surveys are not a particularly reliable way of estimating aquatic mammal numbers and the major threats to the species remain. Given the immense ecological and economic importance of the manatees and their habitat, it would be misguided in the extreme to succumb to pressure from lobbying groups and relist the manatee at this point.
We ask that you do not allow the species to be reclassified until there are genuine scientific grounds for such a move.
Thank you for your attention.