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When manatees congregate in the warm Three Sisters Springs to rest in the winter, they aren't as protected as they need to be. As a result, these endangered gentle giants are subject to harassment and disturbance when they need to be regaining their strength.
Tell FWS to provide stronger protections for manatees, including a ban on in-water viewing during the winter!
As a supporter of Defenders of Wildlife and someone who cares deeply about manatees, I'm calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to take swift action to protect the fragile Florida manatee population in Three Sisters Springs during the winter season when they need to rest.
While the interim measures put in place for this purpose the last two winters were a step in the right direction, they are incredibly time-intensive for refuge staff, and still don't offer wintering manatees the protection they deserve. Since there is a boardwalk from which to observe manatees safely on land, I ask that you close the springs to in-water viewing during the winter season when manatees need to rest.
At least 500 manatees spent last winter in Three Sisters Springs to take refuge from the cold in its warm waters. Currently, there is no limit on the number of swimmers allowed in the spring with the manatees at any one time. Wildlife managers at times counted as many as 100 people in the water with the manatees per hour. This situation results in manatees being harassed or harmed by visitors wanting to interact with them. When they encounter crowds of people, some manatees turn around and head back to colder water, placing them in danger of dying because of increased stress due to the cold.
Record losses in recent years of Florida manatees underscore the urgent need for action that prevents further harassment and harm. Please take these important steps to ensure that Florida manatees receive all of the protection they desperately need.
Thank you for your consideration,