Please spread word, this is a recent DRASTIC shift in policy - the idea of destroying the breeding population JUST as the Wildlife Commission was working towards securing the corridors to let them expand their range N. of the Caloosahatchee River. North of the river, there is PLENTY of habitat for the cats, and the FWC's own scientists can educate for co-existing with ranchers.
This article - couples with a SECOND NEW POLICY DECISION MADE at a meeting last month: that PULLED THE RUG OUT FROM UNDER all plans to assist Panther expansion N. of the river (the solution to stabilize the species). Basically: it's a two prong fast track to extinction.
IT IS ALL POLITICALLY DRIVEN, not by the people, it's developers, ranchers and who knows/hunting.
I have confirmed the article is TRUE - have been working with a state biologist in the Landowner's Assistance Program for the past eight months. It is all political, and fast action - word needs to spread - quick - to take the pressure OFF before it is too late.
N. America once had SIX subspecies of Panther (Cougar, Mountain Lion, Puma - just name differences). We have already LOST the NE subspecies and the Midwestern one. All that remains of the SE is Florida. Texas is hanging on, and the NW subspecies is under study.
The Florida subspecies is smaller than its northern cousins, has a different shaped face - it is uniquely adapted to our hot, wet climate, and its preferred prey is: armadillos, raccoons, wild pigs (ferals, that do great damage) and deer. The cats do not threaten people/have no record of doing so.
There are ways to protect hobby animals and cattle from predation. We have cats (migrating males) passing through here often - nobody EVER has lost a horse, a foal, a goat, or a donkey, though cats have been seen stalking deer right next to pastures.
Thank you for spreading the word. From what I can see, most major environmental organizations, even those that support big cats - are unaware of these policy shifts. Frightening, how fast this has moved, it's like the perfect storm blown up overnight. Conservation was making steady progress - now this.
Tweeted this article Janny. Not many followers but my son has including some American punk bands. Hope they spread the message quickly. What a disgrace this is happening
The picture looks a little better, today. The panthers are not being removed; they are going to be allowed to hang on, unmolested.
The threat: more of their exceedingly tiny habitat is under development pressure, and the officials IN CHARGE of FWC are developers - appointed by Gov Scott - they are there to steer for their own special interests, NOT GOOD, and against their own department. This corrupt pressure needs to be GONE.
N. of the river, where the panthers can migrate and expand their range - there is a scientist/biologist in FWC whose ONLY job is to track panthers, verify where they go when they migrate - and to apply good science to preservation of the corridors and lands they need to flourish. There is plenty PLENTY of habitat for them to expand - but her job may disappear by Oct 1st. Therefore, North of the river (where the panther can expand and so stabilize the species) they panthers may be 'on their own.'
A few ranchers want the expansion of range stopped. A few want license to 'shoot nuisance animals on their own/without verification.'
It should be noted: Florida Panthers are endangered species by FEDERAL RULING. As a result, there is already funding and provision to re-imburse ranchers or owners of livestock predated by panthers. The obligation: the rancher or owner of the killed stock must phone the FWC and a biologist comes and verifies it is ACTUALLY a cat kill - easy to do! MOST kills claimed to be panthers are not: they are dogs, coyotes, even fence damage....so ranchers are ALREADY compensated for panther kills, they only have to use correct channels. They cannot do it on their own.
Further: there is a program pending, already FUNDED that will REIMBURSE ranchers and land owners - in short PAY THEM to maintain panther habitat. So claiming a 'nuisance animal' is just not true - the land owners are compensated under federal funds.
It is the corruption (developers put on the BOARD of the Florida Wildlife Commission) who are messing up the healthy good science, and the program in place, that IS WORKING to save this endangered species - these developers appointed to the board were put in place by Florida's Governor Rick Scott - PROTEST THAT. Special interests (developers) and (ranchers) have conflict of interest, and should not be on this board, steering the conservation of a species that so many have labored to save. MOST of the panther money comes from the license plate sales - it funds all of the biologists, all of the cameras and chips - most of the program.
I will post Scott's contact (phone you use to speak to his staff) on request.
The developer board members are RECENT and are what are screwing up the measures in place that ARE WORKING. The cats are stable and well able to expand on their own. They deserve the backing of science and observation (proved) of migration routes to keep the habitat intact for them to expand without undue interference.
Note: NOT ALL RANCHERS. Some of them, and many major land owners are IN FAVOR and working to save this gorgeous species.
NOTE FURTHER: panther kills of livestock are VERY RARE. Where range is plentiful, the animals prey on wild deer, wild hogs, armadillos and raccoon. WE have a panther in this area, seen repeatedly this summer - who ranges through 3 properties with horses on them, one of which is a large breeding operation with foals. The panther has been seen RIGHT NEXT TO THE PASTURES: stalking deer, not domestic stock. We have had NO kills of donkeys, goats, mini horses, foals, horses or any other domestic animal here even though panthers cross through. The two kills - both fawns - that were observed were verified by biologists: coyote and bobcat. Not panther....so demonstrably these cats prefer to hunt wild.
I am posting here a link to a similar program - with snow leopards - which demonstrates what our biologist N. of the river is doing to track panthers, their needs, and their habitat so the program to help them survive in the future is targeted correctly.
Let's see this board revamped, the research continue and that development in prime panther habitat in the south SCUTTLED.
I have other links available that detail what the corrupt board is doing and names names, will post on request.