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 Dec 15, 2012 Written by The Associated Press

STUART, Fla. (AP) – A conservative legal group and some north Florida business owners are asking the federal government to strip the manatee of its endangered species status.

Federal officials say they're considering doing just that, though relisting the manatee as only a threatened species would not change any of the restrictions the business owners oppose.

The Pacific Legal Foundation filed a petition Friday with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The California-based group represents Citrus County business owners who say federal boat speed restrictions harm the fishing and tourism industries on King's Bay, where manatees gather for the winter.


Note: The Pacific Legal Foundation is also challenging the 2005 endangered species listing of Puget Sound's resident killer whales, saying federal regulators improperly invented a new subspecies of the whale to justify the listing.