The Florida panther, Florida's state animal, was nearly driven extinct by rampant development in South Florida. Thanks to the conservation efforts of federal and state agencies, these secretive cats have slowly stepped back from the brink of extinction. Now there are as many as 160 left on Earth, roaming through South Florida's remaining swamps and forests.
Big Cypress National Preserve contains some of the panthers' last remaining habitat. Established as a nationally significant ecological resource and primitive area, where ecological processes could be restored and maintained, this safe haven is now threatened by a massive oil boom.
While the preserve has historically accommodated some oil development, there is a new proposal to conduct seismic testing in one-third of the area's 729,000 public acres. Seismic surveys using vibroseis can cause significant environmental damage. Trees and other vegetation will be removed, surface and sheetflow will be upset, visitor access will be reduced, and noise from helicopters, vehicles, engines and generators will disturb wildlife.
Tell the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service to protect this preserve for the last wild Florida panthers and to say no to massive oil exploration and development.
I am writing to express my concern about proposed oil exploration and development in Big Cypress National Preserve and its impacts on the Florida panther.
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I urge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to uphold its obligations under the Endangered Species Act, and, on behalf of all Americans, do not let these activities affect some of the last remaining stretches of habitat for the highly imperiled Florida panther.
I also ask that the National Park Service do its duty to develop guidance documents for oil-development activities in the preserve so that any activities that are approved comply with the highest environmental protections.
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