Florida Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Liesa Priddy wants permission to start killing endangered panthers. But she might have a conflict of interest and certainly didn't do her biology homework before drafting the panther plan. Click here to demand Priddy's removal.
The people of Florida voted to create the Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC), "for the purpose of management, protection, and conservation of wild animal life and fresh water aquatic life."1 But FWC Commissioner Liesa Priddy is using her post on the commission to violate that purpose, and in the process could push the Florida Panther nearer to extinction.
This summer, Priddy asked the FWC to consider a plan giving special permission for some Florida residents and businesses to kill panthers, despite the fact that they're still protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).2 This is an outrage since, by most estimates, there are only between 100 and 180 panthers alive in Florida, which is why they're on the endangered list to start with.
Priddy also owns a 9,300 acre ranch in panther habitat, where she claims predators have killed more than $10,000 worth of livestock and near where developers want to build an entire new town.3 But Priddy claims that her financial stake does not represent a conflict of interest.
If Priddy and her friends convince the FWC to give landowners an exemption to kill off the panthers, it could mean the expiration of all nine of the panthers' lives at once. But four of the five commissioners have already voted to support Priddy's plan once. If we are going to stop this brutal plan to kill an endangered species, we need to remove its sponsor and balance the scales in favor of wildlife. As a Florida resident, your support is crucial: Click here to tell Gov. Rick Scott and FWC Chairman Brian Yoblonski to remove Priddy from all panther decisions immediately.
Conflict of interest is defined as a situation in which a person or organization is involved in multiple interests (financial, emotional or otherwise) that could corrupt the motivation of the individual or organization.4 Most Floridians agree that owning a ranch and development rights in the heart of Panther habitat give her a pretty clear interest. But Priddy claims, "I don't have a conflict of interest. Anybody who doesn't agree with the new panther policy is going to find any possible way to cloud the issue."5
The FWC is also required to make decisions based on "sound science." But when Priddy wrote her new panther killing policy she didn't even consult with FWC biologists. Her original plan claimed there are actually too many panthers already. But when FWC biologists finally saw the proposal, one remarked, "I am unaware of any analysis...that reached that conclusion...it's an opinion, not a fact."2
Priddy's decision to ignore science, make unfounded claims about the panther and ignore her personal financial stake in the issue is no way for a wildlife commissioner to behave. If we don't remove her from these decisions, the Florida Panther could be wiped out.
But only Florida residents like you can deliver the support panthers need from Gov. Rick Scott and Chairman Yoblonski. Without you, Priddy stays in power and the world stands to lose another amazing species to extinction. Click here to make sure Priddy's superiors hear that the mission of the FWC is to protect endangered species like panthers, and hunting advocates with a financial stake in the decision have no place there.
Thanks for all you do,
Anthony for the Environmental Action Panther Patrol
1. Article IV, Section 9: Florida State Constitution.
2. Pittman, Craig. Over Scientists' Objections, Rancher Pushes Panther Policy. Tampa Bay Times. July 10, 2015.
3. Staletovich, Jenny. Does Florida Have Enough Panthers? The Miami Herald. June 22, 2015.
4. Wikipedia Definition: Conflict of Interest.
5. Pittman, Craig. Wildlife Commissioner Part of Group Seeking Permit To 'Take' Panthers. Tampa Bay Times. August 14, 2015.