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Record Manatee Deaths and Changing Protection

January 10th, 2007 by Mike Vasilinda

2006 was a record year for Manatee deaths. The news comes on the eve of a deadline for people to comment on a Manatee management plan that down grades the Sea Cows status from Endangered to Threatened, and as Mike Vasilinda reports, the downgrade has Manatee supporters concerned.

Hear it here: Record Manatee Deaths

Last year saw a record 416 manatee deaths. The news comes a day before comments are due on a plan that would change the manatees status from endangered to threatened. Kip Frohlich of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission expects the new management plan to be adopted.

You know, if thats not good news. We would like to try and keep the death toll lower. However, this plan is very forward looking and looks over a long period of time says Frohlich.

As written, the new plan would be a success if it keeps the manatee population from declining by 30%. The Ocean Conservancy objects. Groups like Save the Manatee worry that by going from endangered to threatened, the dialogue will change and that most people will be less concerned about saving the sea cow.

The highest number of manatee fatalities are occurring in southwest Florida. Boat makers and dock builders there have been fighting for a change because they say regulations hamper development. Before becoming Lt. Governor, Jeff Kottcamp represented the area in the legislature. Kottcamp says there needs to be give and take.

We are always trying to strike that balance because its a state where people want access to the waterways. At the same time, we want to protect our environment.
Says the Lt. Governor.

As for Governor Charlie Crist, hes against fewer protections for the Manatee
That doesnt make a lot of sense to me. Says Crist, but when asked about a change in classification he responded I havent really looked at it.
So a change in status is something he might support.

The management plan could take months of study before being adopted, and no matter what the plan says, it will take money and effort to keep the Manatee from danger

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