Manatees are not endangered species, official says

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to designate the manatee - an aquatic mammal also known as a sea cow - as a threatened species rather than an endangered one.

The commission also voted unanimously to remove the bald eagle from the list of threatened species.

The decisions will not take effect until management plans are approved, officials said.

The state's classification system consists of three categories: endangered, threatened and special concern. They are based on a species' population, how fast it is declining and when extinction is projected, among other factors.

Florida officials said the decisions would not affect how the species are protected, but some environmentalists said the reclassifications could set in motion a downward spiral of state funding and protections, the AP reports.