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Should Manatees Be Dropped From The Endangered Species List?

The number of manatee deaths caused by watercraft could hit an all-time high in Florida this year.

A 90-day comment period wraps up this week on whether the West Indian manatee should be reclassified as a “threatened” species. U.S. Fish and Wildlife insists that if the West Indian manatee is downlisted to “threatened” from “endangered,” that all the protection measures in place now would remain.

Fish and Wildlife wants to reclassify the animal because it no longer fits the definition of “endangered.”

Environmental groups against the move say there aren’t enough places for manatees to go in the winter to stay warm, and point to the recent algae bloom at the Indian River Lagoon as a threat to the manatee.

Fish and Wildlife reports there’s an estimated 6,300 West Indian manatee in Florida. That’s compared to the 1,267 counted in 1991.

The public comment period ends Thursday.

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