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Environment

Legislation Would Boost Federal Funding For Ailing Manatees

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David Hinkle/USFWS
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U.S. Reps. Stephanie Murphy and Brian Mast have introduced legislation aimed at addressing a sky-rocketing number of manatee deaths since the start of the year. 

More than 700 manatees have been found dead in Florida since January, more than triple the number by this time last year. The die-off has prompted a federal investigation.

Nearly 300 of the dead manatees have been in Brevard County, where widespread seagrass losses in the Indian River Lagoon are believed to have left the manatees starving for food. 

The legislation would boost federal funding for local efforts aimed at rescuing ailing marine mammals and determining why they are suffering. 

The bill also would establish a platform for collecting data on marine mammal deaths and direct the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to investigate. 

The manatee was reclassified in 2017 as threatened rather than endangered. 

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