Thursday, January 22, 2015

Record Number Of Florida Panthers Killed Last Year

Sierra Club Looks For Support To Protect Remaining Panther Population
NAPLES, FL. -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service just announced that a record-breaking number of endangered Florida panthers were killed in 2014.

The Sierra Club of Florida said in a press release today asking supporters' help to petition the U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service saying "What little habitat remains for this endangered species is under constant siege from development, oil drilling and mining. The development on their habitat creates a profound threat to their survival and led to the death of 33 Florida panthers last year."

The panthers once roamed throughout the Southeastern U.S. -- from Arkansas to Florida. Now, fewer than180 can be found in just three Florida counties.

"As their habitat disappears, the panthers are forced to survive in smaller areas, leading to more aggression between cats as they try to protect their territory. And, as more development leads to more and more roads running through their habitat, even more are killed by cars: 76% of the Florida panthers killed in 2014 were hit by cars."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has the power to grant critical habitat designation to the lands that are essential to the continued existence of an endangered species and a "critical habitat" designation would protect Florida panthers by requiring federal agencies to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on any actions they carry out, fund or authorize on the panther habitat, to ensure these actions don't destroy or harm the area. It would also halt federal permits that aid developers who want to take over the panther's dwindling habitat and give them their best chance of survival. 

The Sierra Club took legal action to try to force the USFWS to provide critical habitat protection to Florida panthers, but the court decided the decision is up to the USFWS.

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