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North Florida Field Office

Service Statement on court ruling
on manatee settlement agreement

For Immediately Release
July 31, 2002
Release #008-02
Media Contact: Chuck Underwood, 904-731-3332

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service remains committed to Florida manatee

In response to today's U.S. District Court ruling on the settlement agreement in Save the Manatee Club vs. Ballard, the Fish and Wildlife Service's Southeast Regional Director, Sam Hamilton, emphasized the bureau's continued concern and focus on stewardship for the endangered Florida manatee.

"Although adversaries in court, we share the plaintiffs' goal of manatee conservation," said Hamilton, "and are fully committed to compliance with the terms of the settlement agreement."

While the parties await a copy of the ruling from the bench, the Service is initiating steps to address the court's order.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to State fish and wildlife agencies.

- FWS -

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Last modified January 14, 2004