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Manatee mailbag overflows with endangered list pleas
Published December 5, 2007
MIAMI - Handwritten letters from as far away as California and Kentucky. A 5-year-old's line drawings of a manatee mother. A four-line poem.
Gov. Charlie Crist has received thousands of letters and e-mails overwhelmingly in support of keeping the species on the state's endangered list.
Wildlife officials will consider moving the manatee off Florida's endangered list and reclassifying the animal in the lower category of "threatened" at a meeting today in Key Largo.
The governor's office has received nearly 16,000 pieces of mail on the issue since August. The senders range from schoolchildren and manatee advocates to boaters who confront slow speed zones designed to protect the large, slow-moving creatures.
This year, an annual census recorded about 2,800 manatees in Florida waters, up from 1,300 in first survey in 1991. The manatee has no natural enemies other than people, and scientists remain concerned about the potential for habitat loss and injury by boaters.
Officials at the governor's office said they had received more than 15,000 e-mails in support of keeping the manatee on the endangered list and about 500 from people who say it should be moved off. A majority of the e-mails in support, 14,500, were part of an organized campaign.
Some of the most creative offerings were among the 150 pieces of handwritten correspondence. One person enclosed a picture of a "manatee foster child," Ariel.