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North Florida Field Office

Media Advisory


January 7, 2009

Media Contact: Chuck Underwood, chuck_underwood@fws.gov, 904-731-3332

Service clears quarantined manatees for release

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) cleared the way yesterday for previously quarantined manatees to be released back into the wild. These captive animals, undergoing rehabilitation, were originally quarantined because they had or had been exposed to the papilloma virus (PV) and the Service was concerned this virus could be spread to the wild population.

Recently completed research now shows that PV already exists in the wild population. Current evidence also suggests that PV does not pose a threat to the manatee population and that wild, healthy manatees have the ability to resolve PV on their own. Monitoring of both the captive and wild populations will continue to ensure that any changes within the wild manatee population are promptly addressed and evaluated.

The Service’s decision was transmitted to its Manatee Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Release Program (Rehab Program) partners via a memorandum outlining PV’s background, the research that lead the Service to reach its and the health conditions that must be met prior to releasing any of these animals back into the wild. The memorandum is available online at http://www.fws.gov/northflorida.

Service biologists anticipate up to 16 manatees will eventually be released as a result of this decision.

The Service’s North Florida Ecological Services Office is the federal agency lead for manatee recovery and conservation. Media representatives are encouraged to contact the public information officer, listed above, for assistance in getting answers to questions related to this decision or other manatee recovery and conservation actions, concerns or rumors.

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Last modified January 7, 2009

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