Monday, May 21, 2018
News Roundup

Legal group sues to take manatees off endangered list

A libertarian law group called the Pacific Legal Foundation is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to force it to take manatees off the endangered list.

The foundation is representing a group called Save Crystal River, which opposes new federal rules requiring boats in Kings Bay to slow down during the summer as well as winter.

The foundation contends that instead of being listed as endangered, manatees should be lowered on the list to the category of "threatened," pointing out that the most recent aerial survey counted 4,831 of them in Florida's waterways, about 1,800 more than in 2001.

Biologists generally caution against relying on those survey numbers as if they were human census records, comparing the process to counting popcorn as it pops.

Foundation attorney Christina M. Martin, in a news release, conceded that changing manatees' status "won't change protections for the species" — such as the agency's rules on making boats in Kings Bay slow down year-round.

In Florida the foundation has previously argued against rules requiring the dimming of beach lights to help baby sea turtles, and won a U.S. Supreme Court case last year regarding state regulation of wetlands.

Manatees have been on the federal endangered species list since the list was created in 1967. Records show they were not listed because of their numbers, but because of the threats from pollution, the loss of habitat and speeding boats — all of which remain threats today.

A record number, 829, died last year, most from a Red Tide bloom or a mysterious ailment in the Indian River Lagoon that may be tied to pollution.

Seven years ago the Fish and Wildlife Service released a report saying manatees could be reclassified as threatened, based on a computer model that said they are unlikely to go extinct in 100 years.

The model also gave them a 50 percent chance of dwindling to just 500 on either coast over the next 50 years.

When the foundation petitioned the agency to follow through and drop manatees from the endangered list, the agency said federal budget cuts would postpone that step.

"Unfortunately, litigation has become necessary in order to make the government follow the findings of science and obey its own rules," Save Crystal River vice president Steve Lamb, managing director of Nature Coast Development, said in the release.

Comments
Less than one year after historic flooding, Alafia River spills its banks again

Less than one year after historic flooding, Alafia River spills its banks again

LITHIA — Frank Rodriguez was still several hundred yards from his house Monday when he pulled his SUV to the side of the road and changed into a pair of beach shoes.Ahead of him, the way home along River Drive was submerged. He was spared a wade thro...
Updated: 6 minutes ago
Oscar Mayer asked people to tweet photos of hot dog toppings. They got toothpaste and Pepto.

Oscar Mayer asked people to tweet photos of hot dog toppings. They got toothpaste and Pepto.

Oscar Mayer last week asked people on Twitter to tweet a photo at them of toppings on their new hot dogs — which the company described as "improved."The payoff? A year’s supply of hot dogs hand-delivered by none other than the iconic Wienermobile.Sha...
Updated: 10 minutes ago

Company that spilled fertilizer at Tampa port says not as much hit the water

The company that on Friday reported spilling 2 tons of fertilizer into a channel feeding into Tampa Bay says now that the amount was far smaller — 200 pounds, at most.Both Kinder Morgan, which spilled the fertilizer, and the state Department of Envir...
Updated: 13 minutes ago

FDLE: Pasco couple scammed elderly employer out of $480,000

TAMPA — A Pasco County couple face dozens of charges after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said they stole more than $480,000 from their elderly employer.Chet Alan Ragsdale, 45, was arrested Monday on 28 counts of grand theft, 25 counts of ...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
4 sinkholes open in The Villages retirement community

4 sinkholes open in The Villages retirement community

THE VILLAGES — Four sinkholes have opened up in a fast-growing retirement community in Florida, including one in front of a home that was abandoned months ago because of an earlier sinkhole. A spokeswoman for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office says t...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
Shoppers begin Publix boycott as chain continues supporting Adam Putnam for governor

Shoppers begin Publix boycott as chain continues supporting Adam Putnam for governor

Publix has been Florida’s favorite grocery chain for decades — but some shoppers are turning their backs on the store after learning it donated more than half a million dollars to gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam. A handful of state advocacy group...
Updated: 1 hour ago
There’s a swing by Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier …. and a gender reveal for November baby

There’s a swing by Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier …. and a gender reveal for November baby

Tampa Bay Rays OF Kevin Kiermaier and his wife Marisa are having a boy.Kiermaier shared the news on Twitter over the weekend in a most appropriate themed gender reveal event — taking a swing at ball that exploded with blue powder.Looks like im ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Updated: 1 hour ago

Updated: 1 hour ago
GasBuddy predicts plunge in summer travel, blames gas prices

GasBuddy predicts plunge in summer travel, blames gas prices

At least one gas price tracker expects rising fuel prices to sharply curtail summer travel. "For all those that have said summer travel will be unaffected by high gas prices, we offer thousands of respondents who have strongly indicated that’s not tr...
Updated: 1 hour ago