Manatees No Longer Endangered But Still Threatened

First Posted: Mar 31, 2017 04:27 AM EDT

Good news for manatee fans: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said that the West Indian species is no longer endangered. However, they are still not completely out of the woods as they are still thought to be "threatened." Continued protections are necessary to keep them from extinction.

The Washington Post noted that there are still hurdles to face in order to ensure the long-term future of the manatee population. The new status will not loosen the existing federal protections set for the manatees, and they will still be protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Yahoo also noted that being considered "threatened" does not mean that the manatees are saved. They are still protected under the Endangered Species Act. However, they are no longer considered in imminent danger of extinction -- at least for the West Indian manatee species that included the Florida manatee subspecies found in Southeastern United States. Other subspecies considered "threatened" are the Antillean manatee, which can be found in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Central America, northern South America as well as the Greater and Lesser Antilles.

The change in manatee status caused controversy. Some experts state that the sea cows are still vulnerable to human-made problems such as boat collisions, the accelerated climate change, pollution and their loss of habitat.

Jim Kurth of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said that more work needs to be done in order to save the manatee populations. In the Caribbean, for instance, manatee numbers are rising as the government actively worked with partners to address threats to the species.

Manatees were among the first species that were listed in the 1966 Endangered Species Protection Act. Listed alongside them were red wolves, grizzly bears, whooping cranes and American alligators. However, they have been advocated greatly. Singer Jimmy Buffett co-founded the Save the Manatee Club in 1981.

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