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Florida Manatee

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to establish a manatee refuge in Citrus County, Fla., in the waters of Kings Bay. It has determined that certain waterborne activities — including boating at speeds in excess of 35 miles per hour — must be restricted in order to prevent the harassment, hurting or killing of manatees.A manatee refuge is an area in which Fish and Wildlife has determined that certain waterborne activities must be restricted in order to prevent “taking” the species. “Take” includes everything from attempted harassment to capturing or killing.

Kings Bay is an important water resource for the Florida manatee. It is a large embayment at the Crystal River’s headwaters on the west coast of Florida, which is fed by more than 70 freshwater springs. These warm waters give manatees a safe, warm place to escape cooler waters, which they cannot tolerate.

After studying the biological needs of the manatee, the level of take in Kings Bay, and the likelihood of more take due to human activity, the Service established the area as a manatee refuge by special emergency rule in November 2010, which expired March 15, 2011. Tell the Service why you think this area should be protected as a manatee refuge. It’s accepting comments on the proposed rule and draft environmental assessment for just a few more days — till August 22.

The Fish and Wildlife Service needs to hear (1) reasons why the area should be designated as a manatee refuge; (2) information on current or planned activities in the area and their possible effects on manatees; (3) foreseeable economic or other impacts resulting from the proposed designation; (4) substantive information on real or potential effects on the manatee; and (5) actions that could be considered instead of, or along with, the proposed designation that would provide equivalent protection to the manatee against the threat of take. Take action now or visit