Save Critical Habitat for the Florida Panther

  • by: Sierra Club
  • target: Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar

No protected habitat exists for the Florida panther, the only big cat east of the Mississippi. And fewer than 100 individual panthers remain, making the Florida Panther one of America's most endangered species.

Scientists conclude that the panther's existing habitat is the bare minimum needed for the remaining population to survive. As of Monday, January 18th the first Cougar death of 2010 has been reported, adding this number to the seven panthers killed on south Florida highways in 2009, and an additional 24 panthers killed by vehicles in the preceding two years. And scientists conclude that the panther's existing habitat is at the bare minimum needed for the remaining population to survive. This situation must not continue.

The Interior Department has the ability under the Endangered Species Act to protect the remaining habitat now. Urge Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to designate critical habitat for the Florida panther today!

Dear Secretary Salazar,

Although the Florida panther was originally declared an endangered species by the federal government in 1967, the amendment to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) which required each species so listed to also have 'designated critical habitat' did not go into effect until 1978. As a result, no critical habitat exists for America's only big cat east of the Mississippi.

Once roaming throughout the southeastern United States from east Texas to the Carolinas, a single population of 80 to 100 individual panthers now remains, surviving on only about 5 percent of its former range. Florida's schoolchildren overwhelmingly selected the panther as the Florida State Animal in 1982. It is the iconic symbol of the world famous Everglades and all that is wild in Florida.

[Your comment here]

The Florida panther is a solitary and wide ranging species where males can have a range of up to 200 square miles. Scientists have concluded that existing habitat is the bare minimum the remaining population needs to survive. Seven panthers have already been killed on south Florida highways this year, with an additional 24 panthers killed by vehicles in the preceding two years.

At this critical juncture, this situation must not continue. Decisions concerning new residential development and the opening up of protected public lands to motorized recreation are right around the corner. The Interior Department has the ability under the ESA to protect remaining habitat now. I strongly urge you to consider critical habitat designation for the Florida panther.
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