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Managing Endangered Species within the Use/Preservation Paradox: Understanding and Defining Harassment of the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus)

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As the popularity of interacting with marine mammals in the wild increases, managers face the challenge of providing use while simultaneously protecting the target species. Because the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) is protected from harassment by formal legislation, there is some concern regarding manatee encounters in Crystal River, Florida, USA, where tourists swim with the endangered animals. This study examined how the construct of harassment is defined and specifically applied to manatee encounters. Three major themes emerged: stakeholders impose their own values when interpreting formal definitions of harassment; a definition of harassment is difficult to apply in the field; and enforcement efforts are confounded by these and other variables in the setting. Thus, the issue of harassment is not a technical one but largely an issue of social value. Management implications are discussed and a management framework is recommended to find common ground and establish best practices.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA

Publication date: 2003-10-01

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