Government to remap manatee habitat

Sep 30, 2009 By Curtis Morgan

It has been more than 30 years since federal wildlife managers formally mapped the places where endangered manatee live in Florida. On Tuesday, they acknowledged it's probably time for an update.

The U.S. Fish and Service announced it would consider reassessing critical habitat for the manatee, a process that could fill some gaping holes.

Among the places left out of an original designation, done in 1976: natural springs, water basins around power plants that serve as winter havens for sea cows and two entire counties in a major manatee corridor, St. Lucie and Indian River.

Boat strikes killed 11 manatees in Indian River and six in St. Lucie last year.

Chuck Underwood, a spokesman for the service, said the decision is mostly about updating science and would not affect coastal development or public access.

"It really doesn't make a huge change in what is already being done out there in the manatee world," he said.

Pat Rose, executive director of the Save the Manatee Club, said the designation can help safeguard prime manatee grounds, particularly from the effects of large-scale projects such as dredging that might impact water quality or sea grass beds.

Rose stressed the club, which petitioned the service to review the habitat map along with the Center for Biological Diversity, Wildlife Advocacy Project and Defenders of Wildlife, was not looking to impose more restrictions on the manatee's biggest nemesis, motorboats.

Despite an array of slow-speed and no-wake zones, boats killed 90 manatees last year in Florida, five short of the record, set in 2002. "We're not trying through this process to add a bunch of new places so there can be a lot of new boating regulations," Rose said.

Waterways in 17 Florida counties are already designated critical habitat for manatees.
___

(c) 2009, The Miami Herald.
Visit The Miami Herald Web edition on the World Wide Web at www.herald.com/
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Explore further: Experts 'grasping at straws' to save near-extinct rhino

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Feds to reconsider critical habitat for 2 fish

May 07, 2009

(AP) -- A federal judge has ruled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can reconsider the critical habitat designation of two threatened fish species in New Mexico and Arizona after a probe found political interference likely ...

Recommended for you

Study finds tropical fish moving into temperate waters

9 hours ago

Tropical herbivorous fish are beginning to expand their range into temperate waters – likely as a result of climate change – and a new international study documents the dramatic impact of the intrusion ...

Warming leads to more run-ins with polar bears

12 hours ago

Word spread quickly: a polar bear, then two, were spotted near this remote Inuit village on the shores of Hudson Bay, about 1,800 kilometers (1,120 miles) north of Montreal.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.