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Brevard County sees even more manatee deaths this winter, despite supplemental feeding

Wildlife agencies offered lettuce to starving manatees in the Indian River Lagoon. Photo courtesy the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

More manatee deaths occurred in Brevard County this winter than last, despite supplemental feeding provided near a Cape Canaveral power plant.

At the final weekly update from state and federal wildlife officials, they said evaluating this winter’s efforts to save starving manatees in the Indian River Lagoon will take time. And it’s too early to talk about the plans for next winter.

The good news: statewide there were fewer deaths. Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission veterinarian Martine deWitt says that could be due to a warmer December and a shorter winter.

“No matter what,” she added, “Brevard County, which is our central hot zone for these issues with manatees not finding good forage, that number for this county was actually higher for carcasses than last winter. Last winter was 297 versus 316 this winter.”

And that’s even with regular supplemental feeding.

Wildlife officials say that, in the long run, only restoring the lagoon and its lush sea grass will solve the problem. A record 1,101 manatees died last year in Florida. 

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.