Florida manatee feeding operation wraps up for winter

Managers fed manatees nearly 400,000 pounds of lettuce to protect them from starvation

State and federal wildlife officials in Florida have ended a second winter manatee feeding program intended to protect the endangered species from starvation after a record die-off. Wildlife managers provided nearly 400,000 pounds of lettuce to the marine mammals near a warm-water power plant site where the manatees gather for the winter. Officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service counted 163 manatee deaths this season, and they say the pace of deaths appears to be slowing. More than 2,000 manatees have died since January 2021, mostly from starvation due to pollution killing off the native seagrass they rely on. Officials are awaiting a statewide manatee census before determining if feeding efforts will continue next winter.

Read more from the Associated Press.

For more on this unprecedented management effort, TWS members can log in and read the article in the March/April issue of The Wildlife Professional.

Header Image: State and federal wildlife managers provided lettuce to manatees for the past two winters to protect them from starvation. Credit: Avery Bristol, FWC