Environmentalists in Florida are concerned about state plans to weaken protections for the manatee and the red-cockaded woodpecker. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has developed a new set of criteria to gauge what levels of protection animals deserve, and it has indicated that the woodpecker and manatee may now merit lower levels. To qualify as endangered in the state, a species must now have lost at least 80 percent of its population during the past 10 years; a threatened species must have lost at least 50 percent of its population in the last 10 years. Enviros say the criteria will effectively guarantee the extinction of more species. The woodpecker population, for example, has dropped 97 percent in the last century, but not even 50 percent in the last decade.
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