The Florida panther will not be removed from the endangered species list according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announcement on Friday.
Some voices have been raised over the alleged removal of the Florida panther from the endangered species list, and thus protection measures removed, only as the panther population is coming to a healthier number from just the 30 specimens at the end of 1967.
However, the announcement made on Friday contradicts the allegation. The Florida panther will be kept on the endangered species list and all conservation efforts will continue as usual.
The announcement of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee did however refer to a future need to reconsider this status. Which can only mean good news for the big felines currently located in southwest Florida.
Federal authorities on the matter are requiring that new panther populations are established in Florida, exceeding the current region where the Florida panther population is concentrated. This is one of points that the state officials are not too keen on. As such, a draft policy paper concerning the panther population is tabled until September when more scientific input is expected in order to substantiate the final decisions on state/federal responsibilities and requirements concerning the Florida panther population.
Since 1967, when the Florida panther population counted no more than 30 specimens, it has increased steadily to 180 adults currently. This increase is problematic at times for residents of southwestern Florida.
An initial policy paper draft stated that the increase of the panther population was:
“straining currently exceeds the tolerance of landowners, residents and recreationists in the region”.
This language was removed from the currently revised policy paper draft which will be voted upon in September. Nonetheless, Kipp Frohlich, the deputy director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission stated:
“Part of maintaining broad public support is recognizing when you have wildlife conflicts. With our success, and there’s more panthers, the reality is in recent years you’ve had more conflicts”.
Consequentially, the main proposal in the draft policy paper refers to further protecting and restoring the current habitat of the Florida panthers, as opposed to establishing new populations in different regions. The latter option derives from the requests of federal officials who see as crucial the establishing of two new populations counting as many as 240 panthers in different Florida regions.
Whatever the final results are, the Florida wildlife officials stated that more resources and investment is needed for further protecting the Florida panthers.
Photo Credits: jacquithurlowlippisch.com