In 2007 both Federal and State Agencies Recommend
Downlisting Manatee to Threatened Status
2007 Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Manatee Management Plan.
- The Florida Manatee Management Plan provides the framework for conserving and managing manatees in Florida. It is a planning document; not a rule or a regulation.
- Upon approval, the only rule change will be removing the manatee from 68A-27.003, the list of endangered species, and adding it to 68A-27.004, the list of threatened species.
- The plan addresses the key tasks outlined in the federal Florida Manatee Recovery Plan (2001) and is complementary with that plan.
- The goal of all federal recovery plans is to remove thespecies from the list of federally endangered and threatened species. In addition to this stated goal, federal recovery plans identify management actions and criteria that must be met in order for the species to be reclassified and removed from the list.
- Like the federal recovery plan, this plan is intended to reduce the threat of extinction to a level where the manatee can be removed from the list of imperiled species.
- In 2007, the FWC evaluation process resulted in the agency recommendation to downlist the manatee from endangered to threatened status. No action was taken at that time.
2007 5 Year USFWS Review
- According to the USFWS Review in 2007, the manatee was recommended to be downlisted from endangered to threatened species status. No action was taken at that time. The report stated:
“Therefore, we believe the West Indian manatee no longer meets the definition of an endangered species. However, because of the threats of potential habitat loss (Factor A) and watercraft collisions (Factor E) and the concerns regarding the adequacy of regulatory mechanisms associated with those threats, we believe the West Indian manatee should be classified as threatened.”
Further Evidence for Downlisting the Manatee to “Threatened” Species Status
- In 2003, the USFWS determined that all of the warm water springs and hot water discharge canals in Florida could support a manatee population of about 5,000.
- In 2007, the “minimum” manatee population was determined by synoptic survey to be approximately 2,800 animals. In 2010, the “minimum” population was determined by synoptic survey to be approximately 5,067 animals.
- In 2007, both the USFWS and FWC recommend downlisting the manatee to Threatened. See USFWS 2007 Report
- USFWS Regional Director, Cynthia Dohner, declined two petitions by environmental groups and on August 25, 2009, issued a letter confirming the health of the species in the Citrus County area. She stated: “In general, manatees in Florida’s Northwest Management Unit (which includes manatees that winter in the Crystal and Homosassa Rivers) are doing quite well.” Dohner also states that Florida’s sovereign policy in place in King’s Bay since 1991 already “minimizes manatee harassment by swimmers while providing opportunities for wildlife dependant recreation.”
- In 2010 12 Month Finding, USFWS states they did not anticipate congressional appropriations in FY 2010 to be “available to work on additional critical habitat designations”. Yet, they proposed expanding their regulatory control in the Kings Bay Refuge anyway to over 560 acres despite the lack of funding or law enforcement personnel to implement the rule.
- In 2010, the USFWS statements in the Federal Register indicate the range of the manatee population now extends from South Carolina to Texas on a regular basis. We believe this is due to a depletion in available natural resources in Florida (food, shelter, etc.) for the number of manatees in existence.
- Ms. Doehner stated in a letter of Nov. 16, 2011, that the USFWS is authorized to establish manatee protection areas “in waters under the jurisdiction of the United States”. We believe the USFWS does not have jurisdiction in Florida waters.
- In 2012, USFWS is required to reevaluate the status of the manatee on the Endangered Species List. However, the 2012 synoptic survey population count was not conducted during the winter months of 2012.