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article imageManatees May be Removed from Endangered List

By Lisa Angotti     Apr 9, 2007 in Environment
The number of Florida manatees has nearly doubled since 1991, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service sees this as reason to downgrade the animal's threat level. But not everyone agrees.
Great news for the outlook of the once nearly extinct Florida manatee. The US Fish and Wildlife Service says that the endangered species is making a comeback. The outlook for the creature is so positive, in fact, authorities are considering downgrading the species' threat level from "endangered" to "threatened."
The information was revealed by an internal memo sent to The White House on March 26 that The Washington Post received.
According to the memo, the agency may be making an announcing that the manatee "no longer meets the definition of an endangered species," Government officials have yet to agree to the suggestion.
"Until it gets final signatures on it, it could change," Underwood said. "It is an internal document. ... Is it the way we're going at the time? Yes. Is it also possible it could change? Yes."
But some animal rights activists don't agree with the suggested change, fearing that a change in status would limit protection of the animals, and possibly cause a decrease in their numbers.
"This is not the time to be moving to say that they're going to be downlisting (the manatees) and then dilute the protection for them," Patrick Rose, executive director of Save the Manatee CLub said.
Threatened species are still protected under the federal Endangered Species act, as they could become endangered if protection is not maintained. Experts recorded 2,812 manatees in Florida this year during its annual census compared with 3,116 of the animals last year. Despite a decrease in numbers, the manatee's progress is still good compared to a 1991 census which recorded only 1,267 of the animals.
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