Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Opposes Weakening Protections for Florida Manatee

Jan 7, 2016
Press Release
Calls Decision “Misguided and Premature”

 “These Gentle Giants Need our Help”
 

WASHINGTON – In a letter sent today to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, said the agency’s decision to downgrade the manatee from endangered to threatened was "misguided and premature"  in light of the dangers facing the iconic Florida animal.

Since 1966 the manatee, a symbol of Florida’s wilderness and beauty, has been listed as an endangered species. Manatees face a variety of threats to their existence, including watercraft collisions, habitat loss and red tide. Additionally, the warm water springs manatees depend on during the winter months for survival are disappearing.

“These gentle giants need our help as hundreds continue to be killed off,” Buchanan said. “The Fish and Wildlife Service decision will only exacerbate this crisis by reducing their protections.”

Some experts have projected that the current population of only 6,000 manatees in Florida could potentially drop to 500 within the next century.

“I urge the agency to withdraw its misguided and premature proposal immediately and help save this treasured species,” Buchanan said. “The government must not downplay the severity of these threats to the manatee’s survival.”

Buchanan previously called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in October 2014 to express his strong concern regarding reports that the agency was looking into weakening protections for the manatee.

Dan Ashe
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Department of the Interior

Dear Director Ashe:

I am writing to express my opposition to your agency’s proposal to reduce protections for Florida manatees under the Endangered Species Act.

I urge you to withdraw this misguided and premature proposal. 

I am pleased that the population of manatees has grown over the last five decades. But at only 6,000, it defies common sense to view these animals as unworthy of protection. 

Since 1966, manatees have been listed as an endangered species. These gentle giants face a variety of threats to their existence, including watercraft collisions, habitat loss and red tide.  In fact, hundreds of these animals die each year. 

Moreover, manatees need access to warm water during the winter months. But warm water springs are disappearing and over half of Florida’s manatees rely on warm water near power plants that will eventually be phased out.

This is not the time for the federal government to reduce its protections for manatees and their habitats. In its 2007 status review, a government biologist projected a 50 percent probability that the current population of manatees in Florida could drop to 500 within the next century.

Manatees have become an iconic symbol for the wilderness and beauty of Florida. They are an engine in our economy even as they are a restorative presence in our tranquil waters. We must do everything possible to protect this treasured species.

Sincerely,
/s/
Vern Buchanan
Member of Congress