Good Communication Aids in Manatee Rescue
Refuge staff freed a 9-foot, 1,000 pound manatee today with the aid of concerned fishermen and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC). At approximately 1:30pm, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) at the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge received a phone call from FFWCC dispatch that a manatee was entangled near a sailboat at the north end of Kings Bay. Fishermen Don Lekness and Don Varte of Dunnellon and some other concerned citizens called FFWCC to report that the manatee was caught with line wrapped around its belly and feared it was in danger of drowning.
Employees Joyce Kleen, Ivan Vicente, and Jim Kraus from Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge responded immediately after confirming the location of the distressed manatee. The fishermen remained with the animal. The manatee had the line from an anchored sailboat completely wrapped around its belly as well as a second line from a crap trap wrapped around its flipper. The anchor line was cut first and when the animal did not swim away, a crab trap line wrapped around the manatee’s flipper was cut. The animal swam free with no apparent wounds.
This manatee was successfully rescued because concerned citizens called to report the distressed animal immediately and stayed with the animal. The Refuge rescue team was able to act quickly and move directly to the distressed animal and cut it free of two entangled lines due to the accurate and timely communication by all concerned. “This is the type of cooperative action that can make an immediate difference to an entangled manatee and save its life even before it becomes seriously injured” said refuge manager Jim Kraus. The Citrus County Sheriff’s Department and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission law enforcement also responded to the incident.
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 more than 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource 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 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.
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