January 25, 2024Clinic Talks Manatees at Tufts Vet School

On January 25, Animal Law & Policy Clinic Research Assistant Savannah Bergeron (3L), supported by Clinical Instructor Rachel Mathews, gave a presentation at the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine on the Clinic’s legal advocacy for manatees under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

In 2022, the Clinic submitted a petition alongside the Center for Biological Diversity, Miami Waterkeeper, Save the Manatee Club, and Frank S. González García, urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to reclassify the West Indian manatee from threatened to endangered under the ESA. The Service subsequently issued a finding that the petition presented substantial scientific evidence that reclassification may be warranted, an important procedural step necessary for manatees to receive full protection under the ESA. A final decision on whether to increase the species’ protections has not been made, though one was due on November 21, 2023.

The talk included an overview of the ESA’s protections, with a special focus on the process of petitioning the FWS to add a species to the list of endangered or threatened species. It also detailed the myriad threats to manatees that have contributed to their dramatic population decline over the last few years, including habitat loss due to the destruction of seagrass meadows, boat strikes, and climate change.

The presentation, which was hosted by the Tufts Wildlife, Aquatics, Zoo, and Exotics Club, was followed by a lively Q&A with veterinary students.