To David Shindle of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service:As Floridians and concerned citizens, we ask that you maintain the Florida panther's current classification as “endangered” on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service list, and maintain and strengthen conservation measures to protect this unique and majestic species.
The current recovery plan, adopted in 2008, says the service will consider delisting the panther when three populations of 240 or more breeding adults in each population as been established and sufficient habitat to support these populations is secured for the long-term.
While there is confirmation of breeding female panther(s) north of the Caloosahatchee River and the beginnings of natural expansion northward, these animals are a long way from forming additional breeding colonies with a total population of 240 panthers. Additionally, pressures to develop lands within the existing primary, secondary and dispersal zones in Southwest Florida remains high, and the number of panthers killed by vehicles continues to rise every year. We would ask that you continue to implement the proven strategies from your 2008 recovery plan, including:
- Maintain the quantity and quality of habitat in South Florida to ensure panthers can thrive in their current range and even expand to other areas through the dispersal zone.
- Secure more easements on private lands to insure the protection of existing primary, secondary and dispersal zones.
- Develop a land acquisition program to expand the functionality of the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge.
- Support local efforts to preserve panther habitat and to acquire development rights on targeted lands.
- Secure robust corridors within primary, secondary and dispersal zones to the Caloosahatchee River to ensure the cats can disperse from their primary breeding range.
- Identify and possibly eliminate future planned roads that would dissect or impact panther habitat or travel corridors.
- Maintain and enhance existing Florida panther habitat.
The Florida panther is not only our state animal, but it is the poster child for the preventative measures humans can take to bring a species back from the brink of extinction. As Florida Conservation Voters, we support the conservation measures taken by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and their many partners to safeguard this species for the future of Florida, both human and animal.
From these Florida Conservation Voters:
In partnership with: