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March 21 is Save the Florida Panther Day

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has issued a proclamation, extending greetings and best wishes to all who observe Save the Florida Panther Day March 21.

In the proclamation, Crist noted “It is proper and fitting for all Floridians to pause and reflect on the plight of the Florida panther and the task of preserving this rare component of Florida’s diverse natural resources as a legacy to generations of Floridians yet to come.”

The proclamation also said preservation of the Florida panther, which also is the state’s official animal, “…is the will of the people and therefore a mission of their government…”

The Florida Legislature has designated the third Saturday in March as the annual Save the Florida Panther Day.

The Florida panther once ranged across the southeastern United States, but now is confined to South Florida. About 100 Florida panthers remain in the wild, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

The FWC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say the cats’ numbers have risen slightly in the past two decades, largely as a result of better habitat and genetic management and additional public land purchases. .

Florida funds part of the panther research and protection effort through the sale of Florida panther specialty license plates. Eighty-five percent of the money collected from those sales is deposited in the FWC’s Florida Panther Research and Management Trust Fund to help fund the species’ recovery from the threat of extinction.

To view the governor’s proclamation or to learn more about Florida panthers visit PantherNet at MyFWC.com/panther.

This information originally published on March 16, 2009.

http://www.wakulla.com/Wakulla_News/State_Government_News/March_21_is_Save_the_Florida_Panther_Day_200903167390/

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org