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Manatees lose protection as USFWS removes endangered status for species

WASHINGTON (March 30, 2017)—The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund are expressing disappointment that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that manatees in the United States and South America will no longer be listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act and will instead be considered threatened.

"USFWS is required to use the best available science in making ESA listing decisions, and we are deeply concerned that this rulemaking did not take recent manatee die-offs into account," said Sharon Young, Marine Issues Field Director for The Humane Society of the United States. "The reduced status means reduced protection: boat speed limits in manatee habitat may be lifted even though the death toll from boat collisions is still increasing annually. Access to sufficient warm water in winter can be limited, risking even more cold-related deaths. Lower priority might be given to funding research into the causes and prevention of deaths due to toxic red tides and other habitat related threats that have also increased in the past decade.

In comments submitted to the agency, the HSUS opposed the decrease in ESA protection unless or until the human-related threats are better understood and controlled. We were also shocked that, in addition to Florida manatees, manatees in the wider Caribbean will also lose this key protection. Their populations are even smaller than the Florida population and even less is known about their status."

Media Contact: Anna West,, 240-751-2669


The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office. Visit us on all our channels: on the web at, on our blog at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization, rated the most effective by its peers. Since 1954, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. We rescue and care for tens of thousands of animals each year, but our primary mission is to prevent cruelty before it occurs. We're there for all animals, across America and around the world. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty -- on the Web at Subscribe to the blog, A Humane Nation. Join The HSUS on Facebook. Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your Apple or Android device by searching for our “Humane TV” app.