About these ads
Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 14, 2012

Florida Panther Deaths in 2012 Hit Record High

Press Release from Center for Biological Diversity

Florida Panther Deaths in 2012 Hit Record High

Two Road Fatalities, Days Apart, Raise Toll to 26

ORLANDO, Fla.— The deaths of two endangered Florida panthers struck on roads this week brings the number of known deaths this year to 26, the highest on record. The deaths highlight the urgent need to protect habitat for the panther’s South Florida breeding population, as well as the importance of reintroducing panthers to the swampy border between Florida and Georgia to broaden the weakening gene pool of the population.

”Florida panthers are dying on roadways they have to cross in their day-to-day lives because they’re increasingly squeezed into smaller fragments of land between developments,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “These beautiful cats are under siege from out-of-control growth and threatened by inbreeding.”

In 2009 the Center filed a scientific petition seeking the designation of critical habitat for panthers in South Florida, followed by a second petition in 2011 calling for reintroduction to establish a second population in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. The Fish and Wildlife Service rejected both petitions, even though the agency’s own recovery plan calls for protecting habitat and establishing three viable, self-sustainable populations of at least 240 panthers apiece within their historic range in the southern United States. Florida panthers are thought to number between 100 and 160 animals at present, in a single population.

“The Florida panther desperately needs more habitat protection and a second population center in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge,” said Robinson. “More can be done to save these great cats, but it has to be now, before it’s too late.”

Background

Florida panthers once ranged from Arkansas and Louisiana eastward across Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and parts of South Carolina and Tennessee.

Although male panthers have traveled to other parts of Florida and even to Georgia in recent years, the breeding population is now confined to South Florida, where it ekes out a living on less than 5 percent of its original range.

The 2008 Florida Panther Recovery Plan, written by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, calls for protection of remaining Florida panther habitat in South Florida. But existing measures have failed to keep pace with the development of thousands of acres in recent years.

Florida Panther Deaths in 2012 Hit Record High

About these ads

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 436 other followers

%d bloggers like this: