Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hard times for the manatees

The U.S. Geological Survey has released its Threats Analysis for Florida Manatees and the news isn't good:
...if current threats to Florida manatees remain at their present level, the statewide population of manatees is expected to remain stable or increase slightly over the next 10 to 15 years, and then decline as natural and industrial warm-water sources are reduced or lost.
..."The two greatest threats to the future status of manatees are, in order, watercraft-related mortality and loss of warm-water winter habitat," said Dr. Michael Runge, lead author on the report and a research ecologist at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. "Any increase in watercraft-related mortality substantially increases the risk of the Florida manatee population reaching the point of no probable recovery, even if substantial mitigation of other threats occurs at the same time. Reduction of this single threat would greatly reduce the probability of the population reaching the point of no probable return."

And, of course, the watercraft-related threat is certainly not going away, rather, sure to increase.

Nevertheless, there's a push to drop the manatees' status from 'endangered' to 'threatened', according to this article by Peter Whorisky in the Washington Post. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering it, after a recommendation from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Just who's in the Florida commission and who do they give campaign contributions to? Eye on Miami finds out.

In The Huffington Post, James Boyce calls this George Bush Versus The Manatee: A Battle Of Small Brained Mammals.

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