State: 440 manatee deaths documented in 2011

— Officials are reporting 440 manatee deaths throughout the state by mid-December, the second-highest number on record.

That follows 766 manatee deaths in 2010 and 429 in 2009.

Brevard County had the most manatee deaths, recording 98. Lee County had 65, followed by Collier County with 28.

Wildlife officials tell the News-Press that extreme cold contributed to the high numbers of manatee deaths. Boat collisions also are blamed for many of the deaths.

But officials are also counting more manatees than in past years. A January survey counted 4,835 manatees, compared with 5,076 in January 2010 and 3,802 in January 2009.

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