The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund are expressing disappointment that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that manatees in the United States and South America will no longer be listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act and will instead be considered threatened.

"USFWS is required to use the best available science in making ESA listing decisions, and we are deeply concerned that this rulemaking did not take recent manatee die-offs into account,” said Sharon Young, Marine Issues Field Director for The Humane Society of the United States. “The reduced status means reduced protection: boat speed limits in manatee habitat may be lifted even though the death toll from boat collisions is still increasing annually. Access to sufficient warm water in winter can be limited, risking even more cold-related deaths. Lower priority might be given to funding research into the causes and prevention of deaths due to toxic red tides and other habitat related threats that have also increased in the past decade.

In comments submitted to the agency, the HSUS opposed the decrease in ESA protection unless or until the human-related threats are better understood and controlled. We were also shocked that, in addition to Florida manatees, manatees in the wider Caribbean will also lose this key protection. Their populations are even smaller than the Florida population and even less is known about their status.”

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