The Southeast office of the Fishing and Wildlife Services announced yesterday that it has recommended removing the West Indies manatee, closely related to the manatee that lives in Puerto Rico, from the list of endangered species.
The recommendation, that has to be confirmed by the central office of the agency in Washington after a process that will include the public’s input, is based on a study done between 2001 and 2006, which detected an increase from 3,200 to 3,500 individuals in the manatee population that lives of the coast of Florida.
However, the recognition flights, the only method to count manatees in Puerto Rico, reveal that, up to 2005, the population of those mammals in Puerto Rican waters is decreasing. That year, 121 manatees were identified, when three years before that 137 where identified, according to Carlos Diaz, subdirector of the field FWS office in Puerto Rico.
Although the recommendation of removing the manatee from the endangered species list, to which it belongs since 1967, it was recommended that it should be kept a threatened species. Moreover, manatees in Puerto Rico can still be protected as an endangered species by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources of Puerto Rico.