Faced with orders to cut 4 to 10 percent off its budget for the upcoming legislative session, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is proposing cuts that could impact manatee protection around the state. This story in the St. Pete Times notes that one of the potential cuts is to the Lowry Park Zoo's manatee rehabilitation center, which has treated nearly 200 manatees since 1991 for trauma such as boat and propeller hits, red tide poisoning, and cold stress. Additionally, FWC has proposed cutting 90 law enforcement positions even though a study from last year said the division was severely understaffed.
"The loss of these positions would be detrimental to the mission of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission," the commission staff noted in recommending the cutbacks. "The reduction would result in reduced high-visibility patrols in manatee areas...and popular boating and fishing areas.''