TAMPA -- A computer model by the U.S. Geological Survey has predicted that Florida's manatee population will likely double over the next 50 years. If this controversial model is correct, the population of these once endangered animals could rise to 12,000 in the Sunshine State.

This forecast comes from the same computer model that led the federal government to downgrade manatees from endangered to threatened last month. Environmentalists warn that this model has been wrong before and could lead to a federal lawsuit to overturn the government's decision.

The model's designer, Michael Runge says it still predicts that more manatees will be killed by Red Tide algae blooms and more than ever will be killed by boats. It also predicts that waterfront development will drive more manatees away, especially in the Tampa Bay area.

For more, read the Tampa Bay Times article.