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Facing a barrage of threats, America's beloved gentle giants are being overcrowded when they try to seek refuge in natural springs in Kings Bay in Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge.
Throngs of boaters, snorkelers and kayakers mob the entrances to warm water springs where Florida manatees seek to escape cold winter waters. Too often, the manatees are grabbed, groped and harassed by inquisitive tourists. Sometimes, the manatees are unable to reach or are pushed out of the warm water springs they need to survive. There have even been instances when mothers were separated from their dependent calves by careless visitors.
Please urge FWS to step up protections of the vulnerable Florida manatee population!
Dear Director Dan Ashe,
As someone who cares deeply about manatees, I'm calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take swift action to protect the fragile Florida manatee population.
Last year, at least 830 Florida manatees perished from the effects of algal blooms, boat strikes and other threats, leaving the population as vulnerable as ever. As warmer weather elevates threats from boats and toxins, we need to take every possible step to ensure these animals' survival.
That's why I'm requesting that you make Three Sisters Springs a true winter sanctuary for manatees; create additional Kings Bay winter sanctuaries at House and Jurassic Springs so manatees can rest undisturbed; and implement and enforce a no-touch policy for this endangered marine mammal as exists elsewhere in manatee habitat.
The record losses of Florida manatees underscores 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.