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Manatees may soon lose endangered species status

Florida Governor Charlie Crist (R) helps members of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the United States Geological Survey, the Miami Seaquarium and other organizations as they released Patsy the Manatee back into the wild on May 15, 2009 in Homestead, Florida. The Manatee was released after Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists and volunteers from the Dolphin Research Center rescued her on April 29, 2009, after discovering her flipper had become severely entangled in monofilament fishing line. During her treatment and rehabilitation, veterinarians determined Patsy was pregnant and likely to give birth this summer. The veterinarians cleared her for release so she can continue to heal on her own and deliver her calf in the wild.  (Joe Raedle, Getty Images)
Florida Governor Charlie Crist (R) helps members of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the United States Geological Survey, the Miami Seaquarium and other organizations as they released Patsy the Manatee back into the wild on May 15, 2009 in Homestead, Florida. The Manatee was released after Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists and volunteers from the Dolphin Research Center rescued her on April 29, 2009, after discovering her flipper had become severely entangled in monofilament fishing line. During her treatment and rehabilitation, veterinarians determined Patsy was pregnant and likely to give birth this summer. The veterinarians cleared her for release so she can continue to heal on her own and deliver her calf in the wild. (Joe Raedle, Getty Images)
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Updated: 8/29 5:15 am

MIAMI (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering changing the manatee's status from endangered to threatened.

As part of that process, the agency is seeking public comment on its finding that a petition to reclassify the manatee has merits. The deadline for comments is Tuesday.

The majority of the more than 700 comments submitted so far urge the government to keep the manatee listed as endangered.

The groups behind the petition say those responses only prove that emotions drive manatee-related policies, not facts or the wildlife service's own rules. The Citrus County group Save Crystal River Inc. and the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation say excessive regulation protects manatees at the expense of businesses relying on waters where manatees swim.

Reclassifying the manatee wouldn't immediately change any of its protections.

 

©2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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