The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is inching closer to a plan that would permit development including oil and gas drilling on critical panther habitat. To get at oil and gas, they want an exception from the Endangered Species Act to shoot, kill and harass panthers. Donate here so we can call out FWC for this atrocity and save the last 180 Florida Panthers.
I try to refrain from hyperbole. But in the case of the Florida Panther, there's no other way to say it: If we don't intervene right now we could lose these cats forever. With only 180 Florida Panthers left in the world they're clearly one of the more imperiled species on the planet. We lose too many panthers every year to traffic accidents, which are the number one cause of mortality, 24 last year alone.1 But they may soon have a more deadly predator.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) just released a Habitat Conservation Plan requesting an "Incidental Take" permit from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.2 If granted, the permit would allow humans to, "harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, kill and trap" panthers at will.3 FWC wrote this plan hand-in-hand with major land developers who claim they need to shoot Panthers to make way for more residential development. But their real reason is much more crude.
Beneath the pristine panther habitat are gallons of oil and gas -- but they can't drill, extract or burn those fossil fuels with pesky panthers in their way.2 We have to expose this plan to the people of Florida and the entire world before it's too late. Will you chip in $25 or more to help us design and place a billboard at, what could be, the scene of the crime exposing FWS's Panther for Petroleum Program?
Here's where the situation gets even worse: One of the FWC Commissioners was recently paid $3.75 Million to dedicate a portion of her land as a "Conservation Easement" near where panthers are known to roam. That easement sits on top of major oil and gas deposits, which can be drilled under the agreement.4 And to go even deeper down the rabbit hole, the same Commissioner has close ties with a major Florida oil and gas company, who owns the mineral rights below her property.5
I think you can see where all this is headed. We can't trust an FWC that is tainted by the prospect of cashing in while tapping panthers out. The more people we let know what's happening, the better chance we have of stopping this feckless feline fiasco that could lead to the end of an entire species. Please chip in whatever you can to help us expose the truth and keep the Florida Panther from taking a final, permanent bow.
Thanks for standing with the cats,
Anthony and the Environmental Action Florida Panther Patrol
1. Ingraham, Christopher. There are Only 180 Florida Panthers Left, and Drivers are Killing Dozens of Them Each Year. The Washington Post. July 31, 2015.
2. Pittman, Craig. Feds Want Public Comment on Plan to Develop Panther Habitat. Tampa Bay Times. April 12, 2016.
3. United States Fish and Wildlife Service: Habitat Conservation Plans Fact Sheet.
4. Sarkissian, Arek. State Pays $7.75 Million in Conservation Easements to Two Ranchers, Including Wildlife Commissioner. Naples Daily News. September 29, 2015.
5. Collier Resources Company Website