Federal Government to Investigate Sharp Increase in Florida Manatee Deaths
Announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service comes in response to a request made by Congresswoman Murphy
WASHINGTON—In response to a formal request made by U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Fla, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced today the sharp increase in manatee deaths in Florida constitutes an Unusual Mortality Event (UME). This designation authorizes the federal government, working in coordination with the State of Florida and non-profit organizations, to investigate the cause of the die-off and to take immediate steps to prevent more manatees from dying. Earlier this month, Murphy asked the federal agency to investigate the spike in manatee deaths and determine whether a UME should be declared. Between Jan. 1 and Feb. 26 of this year, the state recorded 403 manatee deaths, about triple the normal level. According to reports, manatees may be starving due to a decline in seagrass, their primary food source.