Update: This week nearly 8,000 members like you submitted comments to the USFWS telling them to reject a plan that would endanger Florida Panthers. But there are still many people in Florida who don't know what's happening. Donate here to help us place a billboard in panther territory that will expose the Panthers for Petroleum program and save these cats from extinction.
I want to make sure you saw my email from last week about the secret Panthers for Petroleum Program being considered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC). A group of wealthy land developers with direct ties to the oil and gas industry recently submitted a plan that includes a dangerous exemption from the Endangered Species Act.
The exemption, known as a Section 10 "Incidental Take" permit, would give a license to kill, shoot and harass Florida Panthers. This is a terrible idea, since these cats are one of the most imperiled endangered species on the planet, with the less than 200 known Panthers in the wild. The plan is being supported by an FWC Commissioner, who has land in the area and claims that panthers are killing her cattle. Worse yet, this same commissioner was recently awarded $3.75 million by Florida Governor Rick Scott to dedicate a portion of her land as a "Conservation Easement."
The developers and their favorite FWC commissioner claim that the permit is necessary to make way for new residential development -- but they're not as slick as they think. Beneath all of that land, including the conservation easement, is a trove of oil and gas they want to get at, even if it means fracking, drilling and robbing future generations of one of the state's most iconic endangered species.
It's no coincidence that the developers include a very powerful family who owns all the mineral rights beneath the panthers' home. And it's also no coincidence that the same family has already petitioned the National Park Service to begin seismic testing in the area so that they know EXACTLY where all that oil and gas is. It's nothing more than one big Panthers for Petroleum program, and if we don't stop it, the Florida Panther's ninth life could come to an end.
We have to let everyone in Florida know what's going on before it's too late. We're close to reaching our fundraising goal to put up a billboard in Panther country to do just that. With your help we can cross the finish line. Please click here to donate $25 or more to help us erect a billboard detailing exactly what is happening to Florida Panthers so more people can take a stand against this crude cat killing contract.
Thanks for standing with the cats,
Anthony and Environmental Action Florida Panther Patrol
P.S. You can see or forward my detailed email on this issue just below, in case your friends and family need an update on the Florida Panther too.
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