FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
FWS: Chuck Underwood, 904-731-3332
FDEP: Amy Graham (850) 245-2112 or (850) 778-7258 (cell)
U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE AND FLORIDA DEP ANNOUNCE PLAN
TO DEFER THE RELEASE OF HOMOSASSA SPRINGS MANATEES
~Plan reflects commitment to manatee conservation~
HOMOSASSA SPRINGS - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced a decision to
defer the release of manatees from Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife
State Park (Homosassa Springs) until 2011.
As part of this decision, two manatees currently being held in isolation at the park
will be returned to the spring bowl at the state park next Thursday, December
24 at 9:00 a.m. Over the next several months FWS and DEP will continue working
together to define an agreement that addresses the long term future of
Homosassa Springs as a manatee rehabilitation facility and is consistent with
FWS’ overall objective of releasing rehabilitated animals back into the wild.
“I am thankful for the input of the Floridians and elected officials for their
commitment and concern for these animals. I look forward to continued cooperation
with the FWS in our common goal to protect the endangered manatee," said DEP Secretary Michael W. Sole.
With an annual attendance record of nearly 370,000 visitors, year-round manatee exhibits and
the world famous “fishbowl” for viewing manatees underwater in their natural
habitat, Homosassa Springs is one of the state’s most appealing manatee
“We greatly appreciate the extensive cooperation by our state partners in manatee
recovery,” said Dave Hankla, field supervisor for the FWS North Florida office
in Jacksonville. “Homosassa Springs is a truly unique facility with an
exceptional opportunity for education, rehabilitation, and conservation of
habitat in one location.”
The first two-time Gold Medal winner honoring the nation’s best state park service, Florida's state park system is
one of the largest in the country with 160 parks, most of which are open 365
days a year. Florida's state parks, which span more than 700,000 acres and
include more than 100 miles of sandy white beach, provide an affordable outing
for people of all ages.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing
fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American
people. Visit FWS online at www.fws.gov/northflorida.
Weather permitting, the manatee transfer will take place:
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
4150 South Suncoast Boulevard (U.S. Highway 19)