Since manatees were listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1973, their numbers have never truly recovered; the slow-moving, peaceable animals must constantly contend with a barrage of manmade threats.
Boats and other watercraft kill about 87 manatees each year by crushing them with their hulls or cutting them with their propeller blades. And now climate change may also pose a threat: Cold snaps caused by unusual fluctuations in sea temperatures are killing manatees, while higher surface-water temperatures produce more severe hurricanes and lethal red-tide algal blooms.
These threats, combined with loss of habitat due to urban development and boating infrastructure, add up to some bleak prospects -- which is why it's so baffling that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now considering weakening manatee protections under the Act.
No one study has yet adequately determined the size of the manatee population -- and by one estimate their numbers are actually in slight decline.
Take action -- tell the Service to remain firm and maintain the most vigorous protections for Florida manatees.
July 10, 2014 Action Alert ID# 155
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