TAMPA (FOX 13) - There's growing opposition to a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service plan to take the manatee off the endangered species list. Friday, Florida Senator Bill Nelson spoke out against the plan.
The Fish & Wildlife Service announced the controversial proposal in January. It wants to reclassify Florida manatees as a threatened species, rather than an endangered species.
The department says restrictions imposed over the past several decades have worked and manatees are now flourishing in Florida's waters.
"I think that Fish and Wildlife is jumping the gun," Nelson said Friday. "I think that they're not sensitive to what we're sensitive to."
In the 1970's, only about 1,200 manatees were counted around Florida's coastline. During the last survey, more than 6,000 were counted.
The sea cows can fall victim to cold snaps and sometimes die after being hit by boats.