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The Villages
Saturday, February 24, 2024

Protecting manatees critical to Florida

The manatees are beloved in Florida. We have a strong bond with the lovable sea cows. Protecting them is important to all of us.

Pollution-fueled algae blooms have sparked an ongoing mortality event that has contributed to unprecedented Florida manatee mortality approaching 2,000 deaths in 2021 and 2022 combined. This two-year record represents more than 20 percent of all manatees in Florida. Manatee experts predict more malnourished and starving manatees with fewer births for years to come, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

Unchecked pollution — from wastewater treatment discharges, leaking septic systems, fertilizer runoff and other sources — is fueling the collapse of the Indian River Lagoon, leading to the unprecedented mortality event. A recent study also found more than half of sampled Florida manatees are chronically exposed to glyphosate, a potent herbicide applied to sugarcane and aquatic weeds. Discharges from Lake Okeechobee containing glyphosate have also resulted in higher concentrations of glyphosate in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers.

Originally listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1973, manatees have never truly recovered. The Fish and Wildlife Service announced its final rule downlisting the West Indian manatee from endangered to threatened on March 30, 2017, despite hundreds of manatees still dying each year from boat strikes, habitat loss and other causes.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed two 90-day findings on Endangered Species Act petitions to uplist the West Indian manatee and the Puerto Rican population of the Antillean manatee.

It is the first procedural step toward providing much greater protections for the imperiled species. The Fish and Wildlife Service must now conduct a thorough review of the best available science before determining whether to increase protections under the Endangered Species Act. A final protection decision is due by Nov. 21.

We should not vote for anyone spreading Russian propaganda

In a Letter to the Editor, a Village of Poinciana woman contends we should not vote for anyone for re-election that has knowingly spread Russian propaganda in the halls of our government.

Please reconsider closing down Texas Hold’ em poker games

A Village of Marsh Bend resident is hoping officials in The Villages will reconsider its decision to shut down Texas Hold’em games.

Ralph is embarrassing himself in rants about Trump

A Village of Piedmont resident fears that frequent letter writer Ralph Bennett is embarrassing himself in his rants about former President Trump.

Shocked to see bumper sticker at Lake Sumter Landing

A Haciendas of Mission Hills resident writes that he was shocked to see a bumper sticker at Lake Sumter Landing.

Don’t take poker away from residents who need it most

A Village of Calumet Grove resident, in a Letter to the Editor, is pleading with officials in The Villages to restore the poker games that mean so much to residents.