Issues and Cases

The feds must follow their own scientific finding — and “downlist” the manatee

Save Crystal River, Inc. v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Contact: M. Reed Hopper or Christina M. Martin

Status: Victory!  On January 7, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it is proposing a rule to downlist the manatee from endangered to threatened. A stipulation for voluntary dismissal was filed and granted on Jan. 22, 2016.

Summary:
Kings Bay In this action, PLF attorneys represent Save Crystal River, Inc., a nonprofit coalition and partnership of friends, neighbors, young parents, retirees, career professionals, business owners, residents, and community leaders who are united in their commitment to maintain and protect the unique quality of life for all people in the community of Crystal River, Citrus County, Florida.

On behalf of Save Crystal River, Inc., PLF will petition the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to downlist West Indian Manatee (trichechus manatus) from endangered to threatened species.  PLF contends that FWS has a legal duty, under the Endangered Species Act, to implement this reclassification, because the species no longer qualifies as endangered, according to the agency’s own findings.

In 2007, when USFWS conducted a 5-Year Review of the West Indian Manatee, which includes the sub-species Florida and Antillean manatee, the agency concluded that downlisting from endangered to threatened. The review estimated a population of about 3,300 manatees. Today, there are over 6,000 manatees, according to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. But instead of following its duty under the Endangered Species Act, the FWS has done nothing. The FWS's stalling prompted PLF's petition on behalf of Save Crystal River, as well as two lawsuits to compel the FWS to respond to the petition in the manner required by Endangered Species Act.

 

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