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U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service Faces Potential Lawsuit Over Record Manatee Die-Off

Credit: David Hinkle  USFWS
Credit: David Hinkle USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is facing the threat of a lawsuit over an unprecedented die-off of more than 905 manatees in Florida this year. 

The Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and Save the Manatee Club filed the notice of intent to sue under the Endangered Species Act. 

The environmental groups want the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to strengthen protections of manatee habitat.  

More than half of the deaths are in the Indian River Lagoon, where water quality problems have led to a widespread loss of seagrass, the manatees’ primary food.

The groups say some 20% of the east coast population has been lost. The animal was downlisted in 2017 from endangered to threatened. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.