This breaks my heart


Florida is the most glorious eco system, that we humans have systematically overdeveloped and almost destroyed
The Glades
The Florida Panther
The reefs
The habitats of thousands of life forms found only here


From Wikipedia

The Florida panther is a critically endangered representative of Cougar (Puma concolor) that lives in the low pinelands, palm forests and swamps of southern Florida in the United States. Its current taxonomic status (Puma concolor coryi or Puma concolor couguar) is unresolved.

Males weigh about 150 pounds and live within a range that includes the Big Cypress National Preserve, Everglades National Park, and the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge.[3] This population, the only unequivocal Cougar representative in the eastern United States, currently occupies only 5% of its historic range.


The Florida panther has long been considered a unique subspecies of Cougar, under the trinomial Puma concolor coryi (Felis concolor coryi in older listings), one of thirty-two subspecies once recognized. Under these terms, the population was listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1967, [4] and it continues to be one of the most intensively and expensively protected feline populations in the world.

A genetic study of Cougar mitochondrial DNA finds that many of the supposed subspecies are too similar to be recognized as distinct,[5] suggesting a reclassification of the Florida panther and numerous other subspecies into a single North American Cougar (Puma concolor couguar). Following the research, the canonical Mammal Species of the World (3rd edition) ceased to recognize the Florida panther as a unique subspecies, collapsing it and others into the North American Cougar.[2]

Despite these findings it is still listed as subspecies Puma concolor coryi in research works, including those directly concerned with its conservation.[6] Responding to the research that suggested removing its subspecies status, the Florida Panther Recovery Team notes "the degree to which the scientific community has accepted the results of Culver et al. and the proposed change in taxonomy is not resolved at this time."[7]


[edit] Threats
Recovery efforts are currently underway in Florida to conserve the state's remaining population of native panthers. This is a difficult task, as the panther requires large contiguous areas of habitat each breeding unit, consisting of one male and two to five females, requires about 200 square miles of habitat.[8] A population of 240 panthers would require 8,000 to 12,000 square miles of habitat with sufficient diversity due to inbreeding as a result of small population size. The introduction of eight female Cougars from a closely related Texas population has apparently been successful in mitigating inbreeding problems.[9]

Southern Florida is a fast-developing area, and declining habitat threatens this species. The two highest causes of mortality for the Florida panthers are automobile injuries and aggression between panthers for territory. The primary threats to the population as a whole include habitat loss, habitat degradation, and habitat fragmentation. The development at Ave Maria near Naples, is controversial for its location in prime panther habitat.[10]


[edit] Controversy
The Florida panther has been at the center of a controversy over the science used to manage the species. There has been strong disagreement between scientists about the location and nature of critical habitat. This in turn is linked to a dispute over management which involves property developers and environmental organisations.[11] Recovery agencies appointed a panel of four experts, the Florida Panther Scientific Review Team (SRT), to evaluate the soundness of the body of work used to guide panther recovery. The SRT identified serious problems in panther literature, including miscitations and misrepresentation of data to support unsound conclusions.[12][13][14] A Data Quality Act (DQA) complaint brought by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and Andrew Eller, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), was successful in demonstrating that agencies continued to use incorrect data after it had been clearly identified as such.[15] As a result of the DQA ruling, USFWS admitted errors in the science the agency was using and subsequently reinstated Eller, who had been fired by USFWS after filing the DQA complaint. In two white papers, environmental groups contended that habitat development was permitted that should not have been, and documented the link between incorrect data and financial conflicts of interest.[16][17] In January 2006, USFWS released a new Draft Florida Panther Recovery Plan for public review.[18]

From Todays Sun Sentinel
Panther road deaths hit new high in Florida


Associated Press

June 30, 2007, 11:01 AM EDT

TALLAHASSEE -- The recent deaths of three Florida panthers on state roads brought this year's total to 14, exceeding the previous record of 11, wildlife officials said.

The three panther deaths, which took place last week, involved collisions with vehicles, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Friday. A total of 11 panthers were killed by vehicles in 2006.

In recent years, panthers have rebounded from the brink of extinction, from roughly 30 to about 100 on the southwestern edge of the Everglades.

The commission said 139 panther deaths have been documented since 1997 -- 63 of which were previously live-captured and equipped with radio collars for ongoing research.

Wildlife officials have been working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Florida Department of Transportation, Collier and Lee county transportation departments and developers to protect panthers along highways segments by incorporating wildlife crossings, fencing and additional speed zones, the commission said.