USFWS reclassifies manatee from endangered to threatened

©Robert Engberg

On Mar. 30, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a press release announcing its decision to reclassify the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The results of a 5-year status review and a petition filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation prompted the USFWS to propose the reclassification in January 2016. Conservation efforts between government agencies and public and private organizations have led to improved manatee abundance and habitat quality throughout a significant portion of its range. On Feb. 20, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced that its most recent counts of the Florida manatee subspecies (Trichechus manatus latirostris) had revealed a population of over 6,000 manatees for a third straight year after having counts as low as 1,267 in 1991. The downlisting reflects the positive population trends of the manatee’s recovery, but does not alter the manatee’s ESA protections. The species also remains protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Read more about the status reclassification at the Chicago Tribune.