Congressman pushing to get manatees back on Endangered Species List

Manatees in Florida are dying at an alarming rate.  

So far this year, Florida has already recorded 890 manatee deaths. 

Congressman Darren Soto is working to put a stop to that.  

"We see why we saw this last year about 10% of Florida's manatees died, many of them by starvation because a lack of their native seagrass are predominant food here," Congressman Soto said.   

In 2017, manatees were taken off the Endangered Species List and categorized as a protected species.  

Now, Congressman Soto is co-sponsoring a bill that would put manatees back on the endangered species list.  

"The other thing is the manatee is on the top of the food chain. So if we're having problems with them, that's a sign of other issues. That's one of the benefits of having the Endangered Species Act. It causes, we as humans, to reassess how we're treating the whole environment," Congressman Soto said. 

The congressman says leakage from septic tanks and fertilizers used for lawns are making their way into our waterways, creating algae blooms that are killing the seagrass that manatees eat.  

Getting the manatees back on the endangered species list would provide additional protection for manatees and funding to get their habitat healthy.  

This bill is co-sponsored by Republican Congressman Vern Buchanan and Congressman Soto says it has strong bipartisan support from around the country.    

"They have a sense that our state's beauty is important for our environment, our way of life, and also for tourism," Congressman Soto said.

Right now, this bill is in committee where it will be voted on. 

Congressman Soto says he’s also been discussing changing the manatee classification back to "endangered" with Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.  

He says he’ll continue those conversations, as the Department of the Interior has the power to change the manatee classification without Congress even having to vote on it.

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