The manatee — for decades the poster mammal for environmental decline in Florida — is officially no longer an endangered species.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday that the manatee will instead be designated “threatened” — a status change that reflects a boom in population over the last decade. In February, Florida wildlife managers released preliminary results of an annual count that recorded 6,620 manatees lumbering in the warm waters of Florida’s lagoons, springs and canals.
It was the third consecutive year the estimated population increased — a trend that federal wildlife managers pointed to as a sign of successful recovery for a species that once numbered in the hundreds in Florida waters when they announced plans in 2016 to reclassify the iconic species.
“The Florida manatee population has continued to increase. We see that in the surveys done every winter,” Larry Williams, the agency’s state supervisor, said in a press …