“Manatees are a keystone species. When they thrive, other plants and animals benefit, too. When they are in trouble, it is a powerful warning about the fate of Florida’s aquatic ecosystems. The spike in manatee deaths is ecocide– it has to stop now,” the petition said.
In turn, the Center is urging the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to uplist Florida’s manatee status to “endangered” in order to guarantee their survival.
“Manatees are currently listed as ‘threatened,’ but it is clear they urgently need the full power of the Endangered Species Act,” the petition continued.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) would outlaw the import, export, possession, sale, or transport of any manatees. Moreover, the ESA would designate protected land as a “critical habitat” in order for the manatee population to recover and expand. The destruction of this critical habitat would thereafter be prohibited and punishable via citizen suits, imprisonment, fines, and forfeiture.
And so far, just over eight thousand and five hundred petitioners have signed on to support the Florida manatees’ new designation as an endangered species.
“They are amazing creatures who do not have a way to defend themselves. They need human help and intervention,” wrote one petitioner, Stephanie Potter.
“I have kayaked and swam with these amazing creatures, and their existence is integral to coastal ecosystems in Florida. As much as this is about protecting a beautiful animal, it is also about ensuring the health of Florida’s rivers and the tourism that these rivers bring,” wrote another petitioner, Cameron Scott.
To learn more about the petition, show your support, or remain updated on its progress, you can visit the link here.
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