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North Florida Field Office

For Immediate Release - MEDIA ADVISORY

Release #: 001-01 

Date: January 2, 2001

Media Contacts: 

Rescue planned for manatees

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that a coordinated team rescue attempt of Florida manatees is planned for Wednesday (January 3) at the Jacksonville Electric Authority's (JEA) Southside power plant.

The plant was originally scheduled to go off line permanently late last year, but that action was delayed due to Service concerns over several manatees which use the plant's warm water outfall as a winter haven.

JEA agreed to keep the plant operational until the animals left permanently or a rescue could be coordinated.

Representatives from JEA, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and the Service discussed the problem last week and decided to proceed with a rescue attempt due to the continuing unseasonably cold weather.

Members and volunteers from the following agencies and organizations will be involved in tomorrow's rescue attempt:

The rescue effort will begin at 10 a.m., tomorrow (Wednesday, Jan. 3) with rescue crews arriving between 9:30 and 10.

Rescued animals will be transported to either Sea World or Lowry Park Zoo depending on the total number of successful rescues. There they will receive thorough medical evaluations. Animals found to be in good health will subsequently be released back into the wild. The exact date and location for such releases will be announced once animal identification and health assessments are complete, and a decision to release has been made.

Media organizations desiring to cover the rescue should plan to have crews at the plant NO LATER THAN 9:45 a.m.

Representatives will be briefing followed by ample opportunities for video/still photo coverage of the actual rescue attempt. Interviews with rescuers will be available once the operation is complete.

NOTE: While access to the rescue perimeter is possible by boat, we strongly recommend against this. Currents in the area are strong and make boat stability a safety concern, as well as inadvertent drifting into the rescue area could disrupt the operations and endanger both the animals and the rescuers. Shore-based locations will provide optimum viewing for all media needs without safety concerns associated with boats in the area.

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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Last modified January 14, 2004