Lawsuit regarding manatees filed against US Fish and Wildlife Service about habitats

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A lawsuit has been filed regarding the Unusual Mortality Event of manatees in the state of Florida.

The lawsuit was filed by the director of the Florida Center for Biological Diversity. It seeks to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWC) over “violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedure Act” for “failing to revise critical habitat[s] for the Florida manatee in response to a 2008 petition.”

“This notice is submitted on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and Save the Manatee Club, all signatories to the 2008 petition,” a news release states.

Habitats for the West Indian manatee have been declining in Florida, especially on the east coast of the state in the Indian River Lagoon, due to a lack of seagrass, the animal’s prime source of food.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission, a total of 905 manatees have died across the state over 2021.

Two United States congressmen from the Tampa Bay area – Republican Vern Buchanan from Florida’s 16th District and and Democrat Darren Soto from Florida’s 9th District – have also introduced legislation to upgrade the status of the West Indian manatee’s status of endangerment.

The manatee’s status was changed from “endangered” in 2017.

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