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Politics

Brown-Waite: Keep Manatee status

By TIMES STAFF WRITERS
Published April 11, 2007


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BROOKSVILLE 

A downgrading in the protection status of manatees from endangered to threatened is an environmental backslide that doesn't sit well with U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite.

On Tuesday, a day after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released its status report on the health of the manatee population and the recommendation to reclassify the species, Brown-Waite fired back.

In a letter to the agency's director, Dale Hall, she urged the Fish and Wildlife Service reconsider the facts and keep important manatee protection measures in place.

She also is seeking signatures of other members of the Florida delegation.

Manatee populations in a small portion of the animal's habitat, Blue Spring in Volusia County and the Crystal River in Citrus County, have shown increases, but that represents only 16 percent of the manatees in Florida.

In other areas, populations are "stable at best or may be declining," Brown-Waite wrote.

She points out that in 2006 a record number of 416 manatees died, many as a result of collisions with boats.

"We question how the FWS can ignore these statistics and choose to downgrade a species that was on the brink of extinction," Brown-Waite wrote.

[Last modified April 11, 2007, 01:57:06]


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