Status of manatees mulled by Florida officials

MIAMI (AP) - Manatees may no longer be classified as an "endangered" species.

The Washington Post has obtained an internal memo that says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may reclassify manatees as "threatened" instead of "endangered."

The memo states that Florida manatees are showing positive growth and adult survival rates.

An agency spokesman says no final decision has been made.

An annual census of the manatee population recorded 2,812 of the animals in Florida waters this year.

When the survey was first done in 1991, scientists counted 1,267 manatees in Florida.

The executive director of the Save the Manatee Club tells the AP that the classification switch means development and boating restrictions that were established to make the state safer for manatees might change as well.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)