STUART, Fla. (AP) - A conservative legal group and some north Florida business owners are asking the federal government to strip the manatee of its endangered species status.
The Pacific Legal Foundation filed a petition Friday with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The California-based group represents Citrus County business owners who say federal restrictions harm the fishing and tourism industries on a bay where manatees gather for the winter.
The group says a 2007 federal review concluded that manatee population numbers had increased enough to downgrade the species from endangered to threatened. However, no action was taken.
The change wouldn't immediately alter protections for the marine mammal. The petition says it's necessary to maintain regulatory credibility.
A fish and wildlife spokesman tells the Sun Sentinel the agency will consider reviewing the petition.