The most significant problem presently faced by Florida manatees is death or injury from boat strikes (USFWS 2001; 2007 and references therein), both direct impacts and propeller cuts. Collisions with watercraft accounted for an average of 24% of known manatee deaths in Florida annually (1976-2000), with 30% in 1999 and 29% in 2000. The second major concern is the long-term availability of warm-water refuges for manatees, which is uncertain if minimum flows and levels are not established for the natural springs on which many manatees depend, and as deregulation of the power industry in Florida occurs (manatees take advantage of warm power plant outfalls) (USFWS 2001; 2007 and references therein). Deaths attributed to water control structures and navigational locks (e.g., entrapment and crushing in gates or locks) represents 4% of known deaths (USFWS 2001) and other threats, such as entanglement in fishing gear, appear to be relatively minor.
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