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Apr 01, 2017 05:20 PM EDT

Florida Manatees Are No Longer Endangered [VIDEO]

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The federal government has officially announced on Thursday that the manatee is no longer an endangered species. There has been an increase in manatee populations and improvements in their habitats, which led the US Fish and Wildlife Service to downgrade protections for the species.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, 2016 was the deadliest year to date for manatees. They claim it is still in danger from ongoing threats from boat strikes and habitat loss. Jaclyn Lopez, director of CBD Florida said that they don't support reducing protections.

There are about 13,000 manatees living through the Caribbean and the southeast US. The species is subdivided equally between two types, which are the Antillean manatee and the Florida manatee. The current population of Florida manatees is 6,620.

In the 1970s, there were only a few hundred manatees in Florida said the US Fish and Wildlife service. The manatee is also known as a sea cow and it was first listed as an endangered species in 1973.

According to CNN the Endangered Species Act defines an endangered species as one currently in danger of. A threatened species is one that is more likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is a part of the US Department of the Interior. They determine which animals need to be protected under the Endangered Species Act. They said that federal protections will still remain in place for manatees, especially now as it migrates from their wintering grounds near warm-water outpours and coastal springs.

According to USA Today, Congressman Vern Buchanan said it was a huge disappointment. He said the decision threatens the survival of the manatee, which happens to be one of Florida's most beloved animals. The manatee's threats include watercraft collisions, habitat loss and red tide.

Buchanan said he planned to get in touch with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to request that they reconsider and overturn the decision. Save the Manatee Club's executive director Patrick Rose said a federal reclassification at the time will seriously undermine the chances of securing the manatee's long-term survival.\

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