OCALA, Florida (AP) - A libertarian legal group representing some north Florida business owners has sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to force manatees off the endangered species list.
The Pacific Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Ocala federal court on behalf of Citrus County business owners who say federal boat speed restrictions harm fishing and tourism on King's Bay, where manatees gather for the winter.
The lawsuit asks a judge to compel the agency to rule on a petition the group Save Crystal River filed in 2012. The petition sought to reclassify the manatee as threatened, per a 2007 federal review of manatee population numbers.
Wildlife service spokesman Chuck Underwood says funding constraints delayed the agency's review of the petition. Underwood says a decision on the manatees' status is expected soon.