ATLANTA, Ga. – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed two 90-day findings on Endangered Species Act petitions to uplist the West Indian manatee and the Puerto Rican population of the Antillean manatee. Based on the Service’s review, both petitions present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned actions may be warranted.
One petition requested the Puerto Rico population of the Antillean manatee be listed as an endangered distinct population segment and critical habitat be designated under the ESA. The second petition requested to reclassify the West Indian manatee, including the Antillean and Florida manatee subspecies, as an endangered species under the ESA. Both subspecies are protected under the ESA as part of the threatened West Indian manatee species-level listing.
“The Service has a long history of working to save the manatee from extinction since it was one of the first species listed under the 1967 precursor to the Endangered Species Act,” said Service Acting Southeast Regional Director Mike Oetker. “We are committed to ensuring we are getting the most updated scientific information during this status review to protect and recover the species.”
The Service will next conduct in-depth status reviews and analyses using the best available science and information and issue a 12-month finding to determine if the petitioned actions are warranted.
Designating critical habitat is not a petitionable action under the ESA and is not addressed in this finding. The Service is currently working on a revised proposed critical habitat rule for the Florida manatee.
The ESA allows citizens to petition the Service to add species to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, remove species from the list, and reclassify species already on the list. The public can play an important role by sharing relevant information with the Service. The Service is requesting new scientific and commercial data and other information regarding the West Indian manatee throughout its range, in particular, new information since the manatee was reclassified from endangered to threatened in 2017. For more information on these 90-day findings, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions.
The public may submit information electronically at https://www.regulations.gov/; enter docket number FWS-R4-ES-2023-0106 in the search box.
For more information on the ESA listing process, including 90-day findings and status reviews, please visit https://www.fws.gov/media/listing-species-threatened-or-endangered.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit https://www.fws.gov/program/southeast-region. Connect with us on social media: Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter), Flickr, and YouTube.