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Florida Wildlife Officials Install Live Manatee Cam To Stem Harassment; 'Many Complaints'

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TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- In its continual efforts to protect the Florida manatee, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has implemented a new strategy. In coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the FWC has installed a camera at the entrance to Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River.

Three Sisters Springs attracts a large number of manatees during the colder months and is therefore a popular spot for manatee viewing. To protect the manatees, the USFWS has established several areas around the springs where entry is prohibited. Additionally, the FWC set up a camera that streams live video to a public website, allowing remote viewing of manatee activity.

"The FWC gets many complaints regarding manatee harassment," said Lt. Col. Bruce Buckson of the FWC's Division of Law Enforcement. "Now, officers and dispatch can check the live, online video if complaints come in regarding Three Sisters Springs."

FWC biologists will also be able to monitor concentrations of manatees and people visiting the springs to see them.

The camera is fully solar-powered and will operate only from dawn to dusk.

Members of the public can view the video, but there are also a few technical details to know first. Only 30 people can access the website at one time. If additional people try to access it, they will receive an error message until spaces open up. Visitors will be prompted to install ActiveX controllers the first time they visit the website. Viewers can also click on the camera icon to take a snapshot of the video.

The public can see the live images by visiting the following link and clicking on the "Single" tab at the top of the page: It may take several minutes after clicking the "Single" tab before visitors are prompted to install ActiveX.

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