Members of Florida Tea Party groups are so upset with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's efforts to save manatees that they are claiming that new rules to possibly be imposed in famous Kings Bay would not only go against the Bible, but also are part of a vast United Nations conspiracy that seeks to limit the rights of Americans.
Kings Bay, along the Crystal River and north of Tampa, is world-renowned for being the only place in the United States where people are legally allowed to interact with manatees. The sea cows were even featured in a '70s Jacques Cousteau documentary. But as the population began dwindling, parts of Kings Bay were deemed a sanctuary. The manatee population in the area is now around 550.
However, because deaths caused by boaters are on the rise, the Fish and Wildlife Service wants to impose some stricter rules that would limit boat traffic and speed. The Tea Party ain't having it.
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Current regulations have helped boost the manatee population from 100 to 500, so clearly they're sufficient, [Citrus County Tea Party Patriots leader Edna] Mattos said. In fact, in her view, the manatee rules tie in to global development issues.
"We believe that (federal regulators') aim is to control the fish and wildlife, in addition to the use of the land that surrounds this area, and the people that live here and visit. ... As most of us know, this all ties in to the United Nations' Agenda 21 and Sustainability."
Agenda 21 is a program, adopted by the U.N. in 1992, to encourage countries around the world to promote only development that does not harm nature. Pundit Glenn Beck and other conservatives have attacked it as an attempt to impose world government's rules on every aspect of American lives. The Citrus County tea party group's website says Agenda 21 is "designed to make humans into livestock."
Mattos said she enjoys showing off the manatees to her grandchildren, but she had little use for the Save the Manatee Club, explaining, "If some of these environmental movements had been around in the days of the dinosaurs, we'd be living in Jurassic Park now."
Mattos has also taken a biblical view of the situation, saying, "We cannot elevate nature above people. That's against the Bible and the Bill of Rights."