US wildlife officials decide on manatee status petition
MIAMI - Federal wildlife officials will announce their decision on a petition to reclassify Florida's iconic manatees as "threatened" instead of "endangered."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has scheduled a news conference for Thursday afternoon in Miami to discuss its review of the manatee's status.
A Florida business group and the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation petitioned the government in 2012 to reclassify the manatee, citing a 2007 federal review that recommended listing the species as threatened because the population is recovering.
Florida's manatee population has grown from several hundred in 1967 to more than 6,000 counted last year in an annual statewide survey.
A listing as a "threatened" species would allow some flexibility for federal officials but maintain most of the protections afforded to animals listed as endangered.