The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has issued its final rule to downgrade the status of the West Indian manatee from endangered to threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. The rule affects both the Florida and Antillean subspecies and was pursued despite strong scientific and legal evidence that shows the downlisting of manatees is not warranted at this time. It is important to stress that the FWS’s reclassification decision was not supported by any of the Scientific Peer Reviewers who were asked to formally comment on the proposal that now leaves manatees and their habitat exposed to attacks and could ultimately preclude the species’ recovery.
Save the Manatee Club is opposed to this unwarranted and unjustified action. We continue to strive for the full recovery of the manatee population throughout its range and will look forward to celebrating such a time when manatees are no longer in danger of extinction or in need of the vital protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act. This is not the time.
Sadly, we can’t accept a decision to prematurely reclassify manatees that places manatees in even greater peril when neither the science nor the law presently support reclassification. Therefore, it is imperative that we take immediate prudent measures to compel the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to comply with the intent of the Endangered Species Act as written. Ultimately, the very fate and purpose of the Endangered Species Act itself is being placed at risk should this action be allowed to prevail.
Please watch for future updates on this issue and, above all, stay active in the fight to protect manatees and their aquatic habitat. We greatly appreciate your continued help and support.
For the manatees,
Patrick M. Rose, CPM,