The welfare and future of the manatees has been in doubt for a long time and it is no wonder that manatees have been on the Endangered Species List for several years.
But there are some organizations, mostly representing businesses and property owners, that consider the manatee to no longer be endangered and merely “threatened.”
The US Fish and Wildlife Service is one of them, as they are being sued by the Pacific Legal Foundation.
It is true that the number of manatees in the wild has increased significantly. A group called Save Crystal River, which happens to be represented by the PLF, and has a concern that King’s Bay will be restricted to boats and fishermen, estimates that in the next 10-15 years about 1,400 manatees will occupy the bay.
It is their contention that manatees have recovered enough to no longer be considered threatened. Local residents worry that the bay will become a manatee sanctuary, which would mean that boats would have to travel at “idle” speeds. That would significantly impact boaters going to the Gulf. It is now up to the Fish and Wildlife Service to review the manatees’ status and decide if it still meets the endangered species requirements.
It has been said quite emphatically, that even if the manatee is taken off the endangered species list, speeding restrictions for boaters, to protect the manatee will still be in place. But some animal rights groups are concerned that if there is a reclassification of the manatees’ status, it will be easier for those laws to be contested.
No matter what the status of the manatees or any other local wildlife, there is always a certain level of respect that needs to be held by those in the area. If you’re curious about what you can do to be courteous to these magnificent creatures, feel free to contact Sunshine River Tours today!