However, they are no longer considered in imminent danger of extinction - at least for the West Indian manatee species that included the Florida manatee subspecies found in Southeastern United States.
Everyone's favorite random sea creature has been downgraded from "endangered" to "threatened" by the US Interior Department, so maybe 2017 isn't so bad, after all.
In an effort to maintain and increase the manatee population, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services have also been nursing injured manatees back to health and reintroducing them into the wild along with orphaned manatees.
Now Florida waters are home to more than 6,000 manatees.
But Pat Rose of the Save the Manatee Club says the assessment does not include large die-offs in 2010 and 2013. However, the Dept. says that manatees will still fall under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and be entitled to Endangered Species Act protections. There is, for instance, a growing trend by manatees to huddle during cooler winter months in artificial habitats created by power plants. "It needs to be reversed".
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"The Fish and Wildlife Service has worked hand-in-hand with state and local governments, businesses, industry, and countless stakeholders over many years to protect and restore a mammal that is cherished by people around the world", US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said in a statement.
FWS working with the U.S. Coast Guard and FWC to minimize manatee collisions with vessels during highspeed marine events and other activities.
The proposed downgrade in status for manatees, announced past year, stoked controversy, as some experts warned the long-protected sea cows were still vulnerable to problems like boat collisions, climate change, pollution, and loss of habitat.
Anne Harvey Holbrook, SMC's Staff Attorney explained that "this reclassification comes at a time when manatees are experiencing extreme and uncontrolled threats to their survival".
But the manatee's considerable improvement alone would not have been enough to get the federal government to reclassify the manatee. USA -based Save the Manatee Club said in a statement that more needs to be done. "With ongoing threats posed by boat strikes and habitat loss, we don't support reducing protections through down-listing yet", she said in a release.