Wildlife

Manatee No Longer Listed as Endangered

Florida’s growing manatee population is a “dramatic turnaround” from the 1970s, the federal government said as it officially removed the aquatic creatures from the endangered list.

The West Indian manatee will now be considered threatened — a marker of progress in the species’ recovery.

Environmental and animal groups decried Thursday’s announcement from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, saying it is premature and comes without a firm long-term recovery plan.

Officials have said that the “downlisting” does not change federal and state protections for the animals, which were put on the endangered list in March 1967. They say the move shows various partners have worked to increase the population numbers and protect habitat.

The action came about a month after Florida officials said that for the third straight year, spotters counted more than 6,000 manatees.

By contrast, just a few hundred manatees were counted in the 1970s, officials said.

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