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Thursday, January 7, 2010 - 10:15am

Agency Mulls Manatee Habitat

The U-S Fish and Wildlife service may seek to expand manatee habitat in Georgia in the coming weeks.

A decision to expand the habitat could set off a year-long process, ending in proposed regulations to protect endangered manatees.

Katie Tripp of the Florida-based group Save the Manatee says, right now, the habitat designation ends at the Florida-Georgia border.

She'd like to see that moved north to be more in line with the slow-moving mammals' range.

"Manatees do migrate through Georgia," Tripp says. "And what the petition proposes is designating critical habitat through the Savannah River."

The military has raised concerns about expansion.

U.S. Navy officials say, they don't want manatee protections to compromise security for nuclear submaries at Georgia's Kings Bay Naval Base.

Expanding the habitat designation would require the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service to review federal activities or decisions that could affect manatees.