"FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The manatee's 47-year run as an endangered species may soon come to an end, as the federal government assesses whether the tubby marine mammal can look forward to a brighter future.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a preliminary conclusion Tuesday that the manatee's prospects have improved to the point where it "may be warranted" to reclassify the species from endangered to threatened. The announcement triggers a more detailed, yearlong scientific review that could culminate in stripping the manatee of the endangered status it has held since 1967.
The change would have no immediate impact on boat slow-speed zones, dock-building limits or other rules that have made the seagrass-munching behemoths among the most controversial creatures in Florida. But some environmentalists and government officials say the loss of the endangered label could make it easier to challenge these measures."