Conserve, Don’t Kill Panthers

Florida_panther_(Felis_concolor_coryi)_at_Jacksonville_Zoo_(3)-By-Moe-Epsilon

Target: Dan Ashe, Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service

Goal: Ensure Florida panthers and ranchers can live together peacefully.

There are only between 100 and 180 Florida panthers still alive in the state of Florida, according to wildlife biologists. However, some people still think their protections should be lifted. Activists need to take action to ensure panthers remain on the endangered species list until scientists can clearly determine that their populations have drastically increased.

Several ranch owners disagree that there are so few panthers left, since some livestock is thought to have been killed by the animals. However, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an animal is not considered to be recovered in the wild unless “three self-sustaining populations of at least 240 cats each” can be counted. Furthermore, populations have to be able to thrive on protected land for a period of 12 years before taking such measures. Because of non-stop development, however, wildlife biologists do not think this is the case.

Since there is a discrepancy on both sides over how many panthers still exist, some ranch owners and at least one Florida commissioner named Liesa Priddy are allegedly claiming their protections should be lifted. Wildlife experts who do not think this is a good idea are trying to implement a plan known as, “payments for ecosystem services.” The plan would involve ranchers keeping their land “panther friendly.” In return, ranchers would be paid a stipend every year for 10 years as long as they maintained “land-management practices” that lined up with the plan’s main goal. Doing this would not only help to better protect panthers, but it would also help them to increase their habitat range by allowing them to safely inhabit other areas.

Sign this petition and urge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support implementing this plan, rather than taking panthers off of the endangered species list. If we don’t take such actions today, it is all too possible that panthers may be gone tomorrow.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Director Ashe,

Wildlife biologists estimate there are only between 100 and 180 panthers left in the state of Florida. While some people think that protections on this animal should be lifted, it is important to keep them on the endangered species list until it can be unequivocally determined that their populations have greatly increased.

As you know, an animals’ numbers are not considered to be recovered until there are three separate populations containing 240 animals each and until those populations are seen to be doing well on protected land for no less than 12 years. Because of land development combined with the fact that an individual panther needs hundreds of miles of land to roam in order to survive, wildlife biologists do not think their numbers have yet been brought back up to this point.

To better help solve this problem, the Florida Panther Recovery Implementation Team wants to pay ranchers a stipend every year for 10 years for “maintaining panther friendly acreage” and land-management practices. Implementing such a plan would help ranchers financially and it would also allow panthers to increase in population as well as to spread out to other land areas, more likely ensuring many panthers will eventually be too far away from ranchers’ lands to eat their cattle.

I therefore urge you to support implementing such a plan instead of taking panthers off of the endangered species list. If there protections are taken away, they may not be here for our kids to observe tomorrow.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Moe Epsilon

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