News Releases

FWC Commissioners agree on strategic priorities for panther conservation

News Release

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Media contact: Susan Smith, 850-528-1755

At its September meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a position paper that will help guide the agency’s strategic priorities for Florida panther recovery and management.

The position paper reflects input from the Commissioners, senior leadership, the FWC panther research and management team, stakeholders and the general public.

“As we begin the next chapter, we will need to continue our strong partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as we focus on taking care of panthers in south Florida, addressing conflicts, protecting habitats and expanding the panther's range,” FWC Chairman Brian Yablonski said Sept. 2.

The position paper calls for the following actions:

  • Focusing FWC research and management efforts within the core breeding population in south Florida.
  • Placing greater emphasis on addressing and minimizing conflicts with humans.
  • Placing greater emphasis on restoring lost or degraded panther habitat on publically owned conservation lands.
  • Continuing to coordinate with the Florida Department of Transportation and other partners to install wildlife/panther road crossings to help reduce vehicle-related panther deaths.
  • Placing greater emphasis on supporting incentives for private landowners to maintain panther habitat.
  • Aligning research activities with refocused management priorities using innovative techniques and technology.

“The position paper is a step in the right direction with our efforts to maintain a sustainable panther population,” said FWC Commissioner Chuck Roberts. “This paper is not set in stone. We can move forward with it and if it needs to be changed in the future we will have an opportunity to do so.”

It is important to note the Florida panther is listed as an endangered species under the federal authority of the Endangered Species Act. The position paper is not intended to and does not change the existing listing status or any associated legal protections for Florida panthers.

The FWC has served as a leader in the recovery and management of Florida’s state animal since it was classified as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1967. Since that time, the agency and partners have achieved great progress in recovering the panther population from an estimated low of 30 animals to as many as 180 panthers today.

“The FWC remains committed to panther conservation,” said Executive Director Nick Wiley. “We will continue to encourage open discussion, working with partners and stakeholders to accomplish our conservation goals.”

The panther position paper is available by going to MyFWC.com/Commission and clicking on “Commission Meetings” then “Agenda” for this meeting.



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