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Service Seeks Public Input for Manatee Five-Year Review


 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2005

Contacts:
Chuck Underwood, 904-232-2580 x 109


 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it is conducting a five-year review of the Florida manatee, which is federally-protected as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The five-year review will assess the best available scientific and commercial information to determine how the manatee is faring since its original listing in 1967.

According to Dave Hankla, the Service’s field supervisor for its North Florida Ecological Services Office in Jacksonville, the Service is particularly interested in new information which has become available since the last revision to the Florida Manatee Recovery Plan in 2001.

“There has been a tremendous amount of effort put into manatee conservation and research over the last several years,” Hankla said, “and this is an opportunity for our biologists and conservation managers to conduct a comprehensive review of the latest and best scientific and commercial data available.”

In the case of the Florida manatee, the Service is looking for new information related to five specific areas:

  1. species biology, such as population trends, distribution, demographics and genetics;
  2. habitat conditions such as amount, distribution and suitability;
  3. conservation measures which have been implemented that benefit the species;
  4. threat status and trends; and
  5. other new information, data or corrections, such as improved analytical methods, nomenclatural changes, or identification of errors in the information contained in the original listing.

To be of greatest use to Service biologists conducting the review, any new information submitted should be supported by documentation such as maps, bibliographic references, methods used to gather the data, and/or copies of any pertinent publications, reports or letters from knowledgeable sources.

Five-year reviews allow the Service staff to determine if sufficient information is available to warrant a recommendation to either reclassify a species or even take it off the ESA list all together. According to Hankla any recommendation to change the manatee’s status would only be considered if substantiated by the data and would not be made without due consideration.

“If after reviewing all the information, we determine nothing has changed, the manatee’s status will remain Federally-listed as endangered,” Hankla said. “However, if the data substantiates that a reclassification or de-listing is warranted, we could recommend either. Any such decision to recommend reclassification or de-listing would require a separate rulemaking process which would include ample opportunity for public review and comment.”

The Federal Register notice announcing this solicitation of new information and data is available online at northflorida.fws.gov or may be requested by e-mail to manatee@fws.gov, by fax at 904/232-2404, by mail at U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Attn: Manatee Five-year Review, 6620 Southpoint Drive, Suite 310, Jacksonville, FL 32216-0958, or by telephone at 904/232-2580.

New information and comments may be mailed, hand-delivered, faxed, or submitted electronically. Please mail or deliver comments to the address or fax number listed above. Comments submitted electronically should be embedded in the body of the e-mail message itself or attached (please see Notice for details), and should not use special characters and encryption. Please include “Attn: Manatee 5-year Review” in your subject line, and your full name, return address, and, if appropriate, your company, government agency, or organization you represent, in your e-mail message. Comments submitted to manatee@fws.gov will receive an automated response confirming receipt of your message.

In order for biologists and conservation managers to have sufficient time to consider any new information, the information and any supporting data or documents must be received by the Service no later than June 13, 2005.

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 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 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 and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

 


For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit our home page at http://southeast.fws.gov/ or http://www.fws.gov/.



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