Score one for the loveable, sea cow good guys! The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service proposed to remove the West Indian manatee from endangered status in January of this year, down-listing their status to ‘threatened’. Or at least, that’s the plan. The proposed move is open to public comment until 11:59PM EST April 7, 2016. Should manatees be removed from the endangered list? You have a voice!
All you have to do is go to www.regulations.com to get your voice heard by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife. After the April 7 deadline passes, all public comments will be read, cross-referenced and analyzed alongside input from marine biologists.
The initial recommendation came about thanks to a large insurgence in manatee populations in the waters surrounding Florida. When manatees were placed on the ‘endangered’ list in 1972, there were little over 1200 estimated manatees living in Florida. Today, that number is well over 6,000.
The move also does not come without some historical pressures. The Florida Home Builders association sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife in 2005 over the classification of the manatee. Because of their adjacent nature to water in many large Florida cities, boat speed laws put in place in the 1990’s greatly affect the local Home Builders Associations, and what they can build. In 2007, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife concluded manatees could be reclassified after the suit-forced review.
Despite a historical indication, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service did not announce the proposal to remove the manatee as ‘endangered’ until January, 2016. The dragging of feet by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service as come with ire from many.
While the reclassification would not alter any federal protections for the manatee – they are still protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act – it would be a cause for celebration for manatee lovers, everywhere.
"The manatee is one of the most charismatic and instantly recognizable species," said Michael Bean, principal deputy assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior.
We couldn’t agree more. EcoSmart Designs has long celebrated the manatee and countless other animal species, with our Animal Kingdom, In the Wild, and Sea Life jewelry lines of handmade eco-friendly charms and pendants. All our lead free jewelry is made of recycled material, and features hand carved, precise recreations of the world’s wildlife made in the USA.