TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The supplemental feeding plans to aide Florida’s dying manatees due to seagrass loss on the state’s east coast is winding down, but are not yet halted.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Scott Calleson with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service said the joint unified command between the national entity and the state has no plans to feed manatees over the summer.
“This trial effort was really only designed as a winter intervention to help get the animals through the winter because we knew they would be aggregating in those warm water sites,” he said.
The intent of the USFWS and the FWC is to watch the weather and when they are “comfortable” that winter is over, to wind down feeding operations.
“And eventually we can stop – probably within the next two weeks,” Calleson said.
Lessons learned from the supplemental feeding trial haven’t been fully assessed yet, Calleson said.
“We want to get through this winter and wind down the feeding and then we will very definitely have some debriefings and thing about what we did well and what be able to be improved,” he said.
“Now we know what it takes to fill up that upland site. We roughly [know] how many refrigerator trailers it takes, what kind of commander trailers we need, we kind of infrastructure we need. So that’s a really important lesson for us,” said John Wallace, another member of the USFWC.
Officials said they are in the process of winding down efforts at the temporary feeding site in Brevard County, but have not officially confirmed when.
As of March 11, a total of 420 manatees have died the state, according to FWC.