I love these creatures! The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on July 1 that it is moving forward on a status review for the West Indian manatee to reclassify the species, including its subspecies, the Florida manatee and Antillean manatee, from endangered to threatened. Officials said the change would not have an immediate impact on state laws protecting the manatees. Manatees have been on the endangered list for nearly 50 years [and it is nice to know that the manatee population is recovering]. As part of the reclassification process, the federal agency has opened a process of input data on the species over the next 90 days. The North Florida Ecological Services Office has requested feedback and additional information for a 60-day comment period. Submissions must be received on or before September 2, 2014. See information below:
On December 14, 2012, the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), on behalf of Save Crystal River, Inc., submitted a petition requesting the reclassification and included as supporting information an analysis of the Service’s 2007 West Indian Manatee Five-Year Review which had recommended the status upgrade. Today’s announcement, referred to as a 90-day substantial finding, marks the start of a more in depth status review and analysis required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to determine whether reclassification of the West Indian manatee is warranted. The Service also is electing to simultaneously conduct an updated five-year status review also required by the ESA.
To ensure that the status review is complete and based on the best available scientific and commercial information, the Service is opening a 60-day comment period and requesting information concerning the status of the West Indian manatee throughout its entire range.
Specifically, the Service seeks information on:
1) The species biology, including but not limited to distribution, abundance, population trends, demographics, and genetics; 2) the factors that are the basis for making reclassification determinations for a species under Section 4(a) of the ESA; 3) habitat conditions, including but not limited to, amount, distribution, and suitability; 5) whether or not climate change is a threat to the species, what regional climate change models are available, and whether they are reliable and credible to use as step-down models for assessing the effect of climate change on the species and its habitat; 6) past and ongoing conservation measures that have been implemented for the species, its habitat, or both; 7) threat status and trends within the geographical range currently occupied by the species; and, 8) any other new information, data, or corrections, including but not limited to, taxonomic or nomenclatural changes, and improved analytical methods.
Information can be submitted by one of the following methods:
Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Keyword box, enter Docket Number FWS-R4-ES-2014-0024, which is the docket number for this action. Then, in the Search panel on the left side of the screen under the “Document Type” heading, click on the “Proposed Rules” link to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on “Send a Comment or Submission.”
U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2014-0024, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Headquarters, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.
In order to allow sufficient time for biologists to review and consider submitted information and conduct the review, submissions must be received on or before September 2, 2014.