Endangered status sought for manatees as hundreds starve

Nov 21, 2022, 1:05 PM | Updated: 4:23 pm
FILE - A group of manatees are pictured in a canal where discharge from a nearby Florida Power & Li...

FILE - A group of manatees are pictured in a canal where discharge from a nearby Florida Power & Light plant warms the water in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Dec. 28, 2010. Manatees that are dying by the hundreds mainly from pollution-caused starvation in Florida should once again be listed as an endangered species, environmental groups said in a petition Monday, Nov, 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Manatees that are dying by the hundreds mainly from pollution-caused starvation in Florida should once again be listed as an endangered species, environmental groups said Monday in a petition seeking the change.

The petition filed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service contends it was an error to take manatees off the endangered list in 2017, leaving the slow-moving marine mammals listed only as threatened. They had been listed as endangered since 1973.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service now has the opportunity to correct its mistake and protect these desperately imperiled animals,” said Ragan Whitlock, attorney for the Florida-based Center for Biological Diversity.

Under the Endangered Species Act, a species is considered endangered if it is “in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” A threatened species is one that may become endangered in the foreseeable future.

The petition, also sponsored by the Save the Manatee Club, Miami Waterkeeper and others, contends that pollution from fertilizer runoff, leaking septic tanks, wastewater discharges and increased development is triggering algae blooms that have killed much of the seagrass on which manatees depend, especially on Florida’s east coast.

That resulted in the deaths mainly from starvation of a record 1,100 manatees in 2021 and is continuing this year, with at least 736 manatee deaths reported as of Nov. 11, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The 2021 deaths represented 13% of all manatees estimated to live in Florida waters.

Placing the manatee back on the endangered list would enhance federal scrutiny of projects and issues that involve manatees and bring more resources and expertise to tackle the problem, said Patrick Rose, executive director of the Save the Manatee Club.

“Re-designating manatees as endangered will be a critical first step in righting a terrible wrong,” Rose said.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has 90 days to determine whether restoring the manatee to endangered status is warranted and, if so, 12 months from the date of the petition to complete a review of the manatee’s status.

The Fish and Wildlife Service said in an email that officials are “aware of the petition. Service staff will review the petition through our normal petition processes.”

Meanwhile, state wildlife officials say they will launch a second year of experimental feeding of lettuce to manatees that gather by the hundreds during winter in the warm-water discharge an electric power plant near Cape Canaveral.

Last year, about 202,000 pounds (91,600 kilograms) of mostly donated lettuce was fed to manatees under the program. But wildlife experts caution that starvation is a chronic problem that will continue to harm the manatee population without greater attention to reducing pollution.

“With astounding losses of seagrasses around the state, we need to address water-quality issues to give the manatee a fighting chance to thrive and survive,” said Rachel Silverstein, Miami Waterkeeper executive director.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Today in History: December 4, the “Million Dollar Quartet”

Today in History Today is Sunday, Dec. 4, the 338th day of 2022. There are 27 days left in the year. Today’s Highlights in History: On Dec. 4, 1956, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins gathered for the first and only time for a jam session at Sun Records in Memphis. […]
23 hours ago
A Palestinian flag and a poster showing Ammar Adili, 22, who was shot and killed by an Israeli bord...
Associated Press

Palestinians say killing caught on video was unjustified

HAWARA, West Bank (AP) — A makeshift sidewalk memorial with a Palestinian flag and a mourning notice paid tribute Saturday to a 22-year-old Palestinian whose death at the hands of an Israeli border police officer — four pistol shots from close range — was captured on widely shared amateur video. A day after the shooting […]
23 hours ago
FILE - A flu vaccine is readied at the L.A. Care and Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plans...
Associated Press

Flu season worsens as 44 states report high activity

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. flu season keeps getting worse. Health officials said Friday that 7.5% of outpatient medical visits last week were due to flu-like illnesses. That’s as high as the peak of the 2017-18 flu season and higher than any season since. The annual winter flu season usually doesn’t get going until […]
23 hours ago
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin introduces the B-21 Raider stealth at Northrop Grumman Friday, De...
Associated Press

Keep COVID military vaccine mandate, defense chief says

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (AP) — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he wants to keep the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate in place to protect the health of the troops, as Republican governors and lawmakers press to rescind it. This past week more than 20 Republican governors sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Family says coyote attacked toddler outside LA home

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A coyote ambushed and injured a 2-year old girl outside her Los Angeles home in a daytime attack before her father chased the animal off, her family said. Home security video obtained by KTLA-TV shows the animal grab and drag the toddler across her lawn and sidewalk, just seconds after her […]
23 hours ago
FILE -  Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz, speaks during a press conference at the American University of Beir...
Associated Press

Longtime Arizona GOP Rep. Jim Kolbe dies at 80

PHOENIX (AP) — Jim Kolbe, a Republican congressman who represented a heavily Democratic region of Arizona for more than two decades and was a proponent of gay rights, has died. He was 80. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said in a statement that Kolbe died Saturday. Ducey ordered flags lowered until sunset Sunday. Kolbe served in […]
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Endangered status sought for manatees as hundreds starve