14
August
2015
|
09:04 PM
America/New_York

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Releases Revised Position Statement on Florida Panther Recovery

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Haley McKey, 202-772-0247, hmckey@defenders.org

WASHINGTON (August 14, 2015)- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has released a revised position statement on their role in the recovery of the Florida panther. Defenders is pleased that the  new statement reconfirms FWC’s commitment to panther conservation work, including working with the Florida Department of Transportation to prioritize wildlife crossings and focusing on reducing human-panther conflict.

But several shortcomings remain in the statement, such as the assertion that current recovery criteria for the panther many not be achievable and therefore need to be revised. The federal Endangered Species Act requires that recovery criteria must be based on biology, not social tolerance. Additionally, the FWC has stated that it will focus its efforts on addressing issues such as conflicts between humans and panthers south of the Caloosahatchee River. However management and outreach activities north of the river are also critical to the recovery of this species.

The following is a statement from Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark:

“This is a marked improvement on the previous position paper, and a positive step in the right direction. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has played a vital role in panther conservation for decades, and the Florida panther has come a long way towards recovery. However, there is still more work to do.

“To recover the panther, Florida and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service need to protect more habitat, expand panthers into their historic range in north Florida and beyond, manage human-panther conflicts in south Florida and reduce panther mortality on roads.  Defenders is committed to assisting the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in panther management and finding solutions to conflicts. We also urge the Fish and Wildlife Service to take a larger leadership role in recovery of the panther in historic habitat in the southeastern U.S.

“We remain a committed partner in panther recovery efforts and look forward to working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the challenges ahead.”

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Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.