Manatee count put on hold

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) has delayed this year’s manatee count because of the terrorism threat level, the Miami Herald reported in an article yesterday.

The raising of the threat level to high last month resulted in a ban on planes flying over power plants, which attract manatees with the warm water they release, according to the newspaper. Though the threat has since been lowered, the power plants have not agreed to lift the ban yet.

About half of the manatees counted each year are gathered around power plants, the FFWCC told the newspaper.

The last count conducted by the commission was in the last week of January 2003, when officials recorded 3,029 manatees, the newspaper stated.

These manatee counts impact the boating industry’s ability to argue for such things as a faster dock permit process in Florida and a removal of slow speed zones designed to protect manatees, which are considered endangered.

FFWCC officials hope they will be given permission to fly over the power plants in time for the next cold snap, according to the Miami Herald.

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