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North Florida Field Office

News Release

Date: March 24, 2006
Release # 003-06

Media Contacts:
Florida Manatee - Chuck Underwood, 904-232-2580 x 109
Antillean Manatee – Lilibeth Serrano, 787-851-7297 x239

Service seeks additional input for West Indian manatee 5-year review

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it is reopening the comment period for its 5-year review of the West Indian manatee, which is federally-protected as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  On April 14, 2005, the Service announced that it was conducting a 5-year review of the Florida manatee and provided a 30-day period for the public to provide input to that effort.  The Service is amending that initial comment period to include the Puerto Rican population of the West Indian manatee (Antillean subspecies).  Information from both subspecies will be combined into a comprehensive 5-year review of the West Indian manatee.

The 5-year review will assess the best available scientific and commercial information to determine how this manatee is faring since its original listings in 1967 (Florida subspecies) and 1970 (Antillean subspecies).

“For the Antillean manatee we are also soliciting information from the public, concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, environmental entities, and any other interested parties concerning its status” indicated Edwin Muñiz, Field Supervisor for the Ecological Services Field Office in the Caribbean.  Muñiz added that " Reviewing the latest information will also lead to better management and improved conservation of the species." The review will allow the Service to assess the true status of the manatee in Puerto Rico.

On the Florida Manatee, Dave Hankla, Field Supervisor for the Jacksonville Field Office commented: “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.”

The Service is looking for new information related to five specific areas:

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.

These 5-year reviews allow the Service's 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. Any recommendation to change the manatee's status would only be considered if substantiated by the data.

"If after reviewing all the information, we determine nothing has changed, the manatee's Federal status will remain 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 via the contact information below and online at www.fws.gov/northflorida.

New information and comments regarding both the Florida and Antillean manatee subspecies may be mailed, hand-delivered, faxed, or submitted electronically. Please mail or deliver comments to the address or fax number listed below. 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.

Florida Manatee:

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Attn: Manatee 5-Year Review
6620 Southpoint Drive, Suite 310
Jacksonville, FL 32216-0958
Telephone: 904-232-2580
Fax: 904/232-2404
Website: www.fws.gov/northflorida
E-mail: manatee@fws.gov

Antillean Manatee:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Attn: Manatee 5-year Review
P.O. Box 491
Boquerón, PR 00622
Telephone: 787-851-7297 Ext. 230
Fax: 787-851-7440
E-mail: carlos_diaz@fws.gov

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, 2006.

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.

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Last modified March 28, 2006

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