Today, PLF sent a warning to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that unless the agency adopts its proposed rule to reclassify the manatee within 60-days, PLF will sue on behalf of Save Crystal River, Inc., to compel downlisting the status of the species from endangered to threatened.
It is disappointing, but not surprising that the agency is once again ignoring the law, as you will understand with a brief review of the species history:
There is no reason for the agency to delay. The manatee will still enjoy state and federal protections when reclassified as threatened. Moreover, the manatee’s numbers continue to surge. In 2007, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s status review that first recommended downlisting the manatee estimated 3,300 manatees in Florida waters. One decade and two lawsuits later, the agency has failed to reclassify the manatee, despite its experts’ advice, even as the U.S. manatee population has doubled and the total international population reached more than 13,000.
Instead of celebrating the improvement, the agency’s own manatee regulations are needlessly slowing down SCR’s multi-million dollar restoration work to habitat in the waters around Crystal River, Florida. This work benefits manatees and many other creatures. The government should take the next logical (and legally required) step and downlist the manatee. Otherwise, we will have to sue yet again.