MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) — A warm winter has forced Florida wildlife officials to cancel their annual manatee census.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist Holly Edwards says cold weather makes it easier to spot the large sea mammals. Manatees seeking warm water will gather at power plants and natural springs.
Edwards tells Florida Today (http://on.flatoday.com/XfIlRd ) that since the winter has been warm, manatees have stayed too spread out to count.
It's the second consecutive winter that the state has scrubbed its annual manatee survey. The counts began in 1991. They're required by state law, except when weather conditions are prohibitive.
Wildlife officials counted a record 5,077 in 2010. Edwards says the number of manatee deaths from cold stress are down, but the animals are still vulnerable to red tide poisoning and boat strikes.
Information from: Florida Today (Melbourne, Fla.), http://www.floridatoday.com