We wanted to apprise you of an upcoming forum of the Florida Panther Recovery Implementation Team, May 22, 10am-4:30pm, at the Archbold Biological Station in Venus, Florida. The purpose of the forum is to discuss options available under the Federal Endangered Species Act that would reduce the impact on landowners as panthers continue to expand their range north of the Caloosahatchee River. Also discussed will be the idea of developing programs that could compensate landowners for management activities that provide quality panther habitat.
The Panther Team is hosted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Here is a link to the team website: http://www.fws.gov/verobeach/FloridaPantherRIT.html
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Division of Habitat and Species Conservation
8535 Northlake Blvd. | West Palm Beach, FL, 33412
Phone: (561) 882-5703 Fax: (561) 625-5129 |
Group deciding future of Florida panther meets behind closed doorsWednesday, January 29, 2014 6:08pm
ST. PETERSBURG — The future of Florida's state animal is being debated by five state and federal officials, one environmental activist and a major landowner, all behind closed doors.
The seven members of the Florida Panther Recovery Implementation Team began meeting last fall. They gathered Tuesday at the state's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg for a two-day session. An agenda online said the group was supposed to hear from scientific experts and discuss how to encourage the big cats to expand their South Florida population into Central Florida.
A Times reporter who attempted to sit in on the discussion was evicted by federal officials who said the meetings are "by invitation only." Environmental advocates who have previously asked to attend also have been told no.
A provision of the Endangered Species Act allows such groups to meet behind closed doors, according to Larry Williams of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
A summary of the meetings is posted on the agency's website, and Williams promised there would be public forums on the committee's proposals.
"I can understand why anyone would want to come" sit in on the meetings, said Williams, who leads the agency's South Florida office. However, he said he believes the group will function better outside public view.
"The team is trying to come up with ideas for panther recovery that we can roll out to the public," he said. "They need times when they can speak candidly."
That's not the view of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, an environmental group that owns land in panther habitat.
"The service should be open and transparent as a governmental agency by allowing all interested stakeholders from the public they serve to participate," said Jennifer Hecker, the Conservancy's natural resource policy director. The conservancy has been trying to get into the meetings since they began last fall.
Panthers, which once roamed the entire Southeast, are now largely confined to the swamps, pastures and forests of Florida's southern tip. Although the population dwindled to about 30 a few decades ago, about 100 to 160 now prowl what's left of the wilderness in South Florida.
Every plan for pulling them back from the brink of extinction calls for establishing a new population of panthers somewhere else, either in Florida or in another state.
A major topic of discussions this week was how to persuade big landowners to allow panthers to live on their property, Williams said. Most of the potential panther habitat in Central Florida is privately owned, unlike the land south of the Caloosahatchee River where most of them now live, he said.
One possibility, he said, is to pay them for maintaining, restoring or creating a landscape that's inviting for panthers.
To view agendas, meeting summaries and a list of members of the Panther Recovery Implementation Team, click on: http://www.fws.gov/verobeach/FloridaPantherRIT.html.
Craig Pittman can be reached at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @craigtimes.
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DOW has no reason to be on the board,too bad they don't recognize the animal abuse the poor cougar is being put in..or the other fur bearing animals with the verocious pressure of overpopulated flugars.
The reason is simple, BOHICA.
I've already mentioned, need to start electing more pro-hunt candidates, only way change will happen, from local to federal level. The Liberals have unimaginable amounts of money.
What we are trying to do here is to correct that omission....
There will not be any group set up with a lot of hunting advocates, but neither should the group be weighted with "non-hunters". The current group is reasonably close to what can be expected IF a hunting advocate is added to balance with the Defenders of Wildlife. The FWC and USFWS staff people "balance" and the one large land owner is a must in the mix. I know Larry to be a hunter and supportive of hunting on NWRs. I would be supportive of the balance.
This is also a Golden opportunity for hunters to express concern for folks other than hunters since nobody else does. The Positive PR gained from that could be extremely helpful in the future. That could be done right now by pushing for an additional member on this team whose primary purpose would be to look out for the Safety of the general public - especially in Central Florida the current target for may more panthers. Looking at Central Florida on google earth quickly illustrates the near impossible feasibility of cramming more panthers into the region without seriously endangering residents. It won't happen quickly but over time the same serious problems of SW Florida will be installed there by this program sadly. I wonder what the fix will be for that.
After recent serious bear attacks (e.g. Lake Mary, Fl near Orlando) and the 1st panther attack since the 1800s this issue's time has come. The proof of that was the Apr 15th, 2014 FWC meeting at this link http://thefloridachannel.org/videos/41514-florida-fish-wildlife-conservation-commission/ where the issue of rogue carnivores or ("conflict animals" the new gentler term) was discussed for almost 4 hours straight. If one really wants to know how serious the issue is I suggest watching all of this video soon before it's pulled so you know for yourself rather than having to rely on rumors or heresay.
Hopefully the long overdue expansion of this team will happen.
Personally, I feel someone from QDMA holding that seat was the wrong person to represent Florida hunters. We need a local with local knowledge and personal experience to sit in that position. Someone with a brain, a vocabulary, and the ability to understand complex issues and the laws surrounding them.
I had you pissed off at hello.
It's been a long time since the vision,and implementation of Hunter Driven C.A.R.L. ( Conservation And Recreation Lands Act-and related derivatives...)
The hesitancy of the FWCC to interject "hunt" 'interest' at this immediate time (further compounded by credible,most potentially effective "Hunt Interest" perhaps only willing to Lurk at this time.......)might in fact be appropriate, a gift to hunter,state and all..It's a State In Flux.
The so called FL panther/flugar is just an excuse to do everything they can to re introduce the newly created species and call it a FL panther and let it populate the SE. No such thing as a Fl panther scientifically except in the minds of THEM
The current amount of available land has more then 100% of the carrying capacity of a Flugar ..........
Do you accept farm raised GMO salmon and consider them a native species?
Thus is the plan to re introduce the species by a technical error....that being the so called Fl Panther
It is a big plan, real big plan we've just been the test cell,but let the expansion begin
now thats a good artical
Then maybe you would be the one that needs to sit on the board.
Who do I need to contact to suggest that you be on the board and if not you, who would you suggest?
It is interesting to note that the Eastern Cougar has been declared extinct despite sightings and actual evidence they still exist throughout the Appalachians yet no effort to force a repopulation anywhere but Florida. Seems more of an agenda of (?) than anything to me, they certainly add nothing to the ecosystem that I can see, the Appalachians are doing well without them, why wouldn't Florida?
If not repopulating to hunt them, then what is the intended purpose? There are plenty out west, tell the Libs to move out there, lots of illegally confiscated government land out there as well, Liberal paradise I tell you!
Year Elk Population
2000 13, 400 (prior to late season elk hunt)
1999 14,538 (prior to late season elk hunt)
1997 no count taken
1996 no count taken
1995 16,791 (when wolf reintroduction began)
1994 19,045 (year before wolf reintroduction)
I am not the one for this committee. It's not my back yard and there are others better suited to this task. I would suggest Lyle McCandless or Byron Maharrey for starters. Both are very knowledgeable and hunt the immediate areas affect by panthers. Further, they both have the ear and respect of the south Florida hunters and are leaders in the community. I know both of them were at yesterday's meetings. Pretty much a dog & pony show as usual.
I had you pissed off at hello.
Not very pleasant reception for the committee.
Regarding our issue of representation....that will be discussed at the June meeting and a decision made.
Several names have been floated that I believe will be agreeable to those on this Thread, but it is best to let them respond if the position is created. Each of the committee was personally lobbied by several of us....Lyle, Byron and Todd were there beside myself...and the need to have a sports/hunter on the committee in order for the committee to have any credibility (or acceptance of their proposals) with a large stakeholder group was emphasized.
It is a lot of work to be on this committee, time and technical expertise or the willingness to study and learn what is needed.
Frankly, there is nothing but grief for our sports/hunter representative in the long run as the panthers are coming one way or another and there is no good news, especially for deer hunting, when panthers are present. That representative is not going to be able to stop the inevitable. All the members of the committee are good folks, whatever their convictions....or their government jobs.....and are trying to do what can be done to work with the USFWS to reach the USFWS goal of two separate populations of at least 240 cats in Florida. That would remove the species from the endangered list.....The USFWS is charged to accomplish that mission. This committee is being utilized to prepare the plan and to work with the stakeholders to establish those two populations.
Just like the guys who floated a couple down river in N Fl.