And that makes Lee the second highest county in the state of Florida for Manatee deaths through July 2. Brevard tops the list with 312 according to FWC. The Manatee mortality rate so far in 2021 has surpassed the previous high of 830 back in 2013.
Back in March when this issue first came up FWC said the main cause was the reduction in food availability.
Center for Biological Diversity Director Jaclyn Lopez has said there are many reasons for the manatee death problem. She said it was a combination of cold weather, a reduction of where manatees can go, and in the places where manatees can go, as a consequence of human development there’s poor water quality which has resulted in these grass die-offs.
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, who represents the Sarasota area, has asked the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service to upgrade the manatee from “threatened” to “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act. 761 manatees have died so far in 2021.
In 2016, Buchanan objected to the FWS downgrading the manatee’s ESA designation from endangered to threatened, noting that the FWS may have been using outdated data to support the reduction in protection. Buchanan was concerned the manatee’s population would decline if their status was downgraded to threatened. The manatee was previously listed as an endangered species dating back to 1966.
Check out a county by county summary of the manatee deaths through July 2nd from FWC HERE