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Manatee Mutilated at Biscayne NP


    Someone with too much time on their hands and too few brains mutilated a manatee in Biscayne National Park the other day. The mammal, also known by the less-than-flattering name "sea cow," is considered endangered under the Endangered Species Act, with a minimum population of 3,200 individuals, as of 2002, according to the Manatee Observation and Education Center.
    Today the population is down by at least one, as a butchered manatee was discovered this past Friday in the park's waters. Rangers say the manatee's throat was slashed and its fins cut off. If the responsible person is found and successfully prosecuted, they could face a year in jail and a $100,000 fine.


When a population gets this low -- 2,000 or so -- the loss of even one individual must surely have severe ramifications. But there's something odd, on the other hand, about society's fascination with one eagle hurt in a highway collision or the nesting in New York City of one red-tailed hawk pair. All kinds of attention given to that one individual or pair while wholesale habitat destruction continues unabated.

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