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North Florida Field Office

For Immediate Release

Date: November 30, 2000

Media Contact: Chuck Underwood 904/731-3332

Public input sought on technical/agency draft revised recovery plan for Florida manatees

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public input on the draft revised recovery plan for the Florida subspecies of the West Indian manatee, an endangered species endemic to the coastal and intercostal waterways of the southeastern United States.

This is the third revision of the recovery plan for Florida manatees. The original plan was produced in 1980 and revised in 1989 and 1996. In the 20 years since the original plan was approved, a tremendous amount of knowledge of manatee biology and ecology has been achieved and significant protection programs implemented. This draft revision reflects those accomplishments, addresses new threats and needs, and specifically addresses the planning requirements of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) through 2006.

"It is very important for the agency to know what the public thinks about the updated recovery strategy for this endangered species," said Sam D. Hamilton, the Service's Southeast Regional Director.

Copies of the draft plan may be obtained from the address below or requested by telephone at 904/232-2580 extension 104, by fax at 904/232-2404 or by e-mail at billy_brooks@fws.gov.

The Service is seeking written public comments on the draft revised recovery plan. All comments must be received by January 30, 2001. Comments may be mailed, hand delivered, faxed or submitted electronically. Please mail or deliver comments to: Bill Brooks, Jacksonville Field Office, 6620 Southpoint Drive, Suite 310, Jacksonville, FL 32216-0958. Comments may also be faxed to 904-232-2404. Comments submitted electronically should be as ASCII text files, and please include your name and return mailing address in your e-mail. Send electronic comments to: billy_brooks@fws.gov

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 Services manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 520 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management assistance offices, 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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