A Florida tea party has taken another step in its effort to protect the citizens of the United States. While its current list of enemies of the state is expansive — including taxes, high-speed rail, and socialized medicine — it has not yet expanded into the realm of wildlife. While all three species of manatees are listed by the World Conservation Organization as vulnerable to extinction, the Citrus County Tea Party Patriots have declared the mammal “dangerous.”
The Florida political group recently announced its plan to fight U.S. Fish and Wildlife restrictions on boating and other human activities.
The Kings Bay wildlife refuge, located in Citrus County, has been under federal protection since 1980. A wonderful example of the potential success of conservation efforts, the Bay is now home to a thriving population of 550 manatees, up from its original dwindling number of 100. Jacques Cousteau’s 1972 documentary Forgotten Mermaids featured the Kings Bay manatees. It’s also one of the only places where humans can actually swim with the giant mammals.
In recent years, however, the number of manatee deaths from boating accidents in the bay has increased.
Responding to the threat, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expanded the protected portion of the bay to encompass the entire area last month.
Dave Hankla, the Service’s North Florida Ecological Services Office supervisor, said, that “human use of the bay has increased beyond the impacts originally considered when the existing protections were created.”
Hankla added, “The number of manatees using Kings Bay throughout the year has simply outgrown the capacity of existing protected areas.”
The area’s tea partiers disagree.
Agenda 21, a program adopted by the U.N. in 1992, was charged with the intent of encouraging countries to promote development that does not harm nature. Glenn Beck and other conservatives have called Agenda 21 an attempt to impose an unjust form of world government. According to the Citrus County tea party group’s website, Agenda 21 is “designed to make humans into livestock.”
Although tea partier Mattos said she brings her grandchildren to see the manatees, she doesn’t see a point in the Save the Manatee Club. “If some of these environmental movements had been around in the days of the dinosaurs, we’d be living in Jurassic Park now,” she said.