COLLIER COUNTY: Eight panthers have been killed in Florida since the start of the year, many of them in our part of the state. Now there’s a new campaign to keep the endangered panther safe.
“Preserving Florida panther habitat is a tremendous challenge,” said Nancy Payton of the Florida Wildlife Federation.
How to take on that challenge is something developers and wildlife experts didn’t agree on until now.
“Traditionally, landowners and conservationists have met in the courtroom, not in the conference room,” said Payton.
The innovative program designed to help grow the panther population was unveiled.
“We think we can develop something that’s going to be better for panthers, while at the same time benefitting land owners,” said Tom Jones of Barron Collier Properties.
By creating new development fees on property in eastern Collier County, supporters hope $150 million can be raised to help restore panther habitats.
“It could be used for wildlife crossings, for buffering, fencing,” said Jones.
Being hit by cars, as well as continued development, especially in eastern Collier County, are two of the biggest threats to panthers. Experts say the new agreement would better protect panthers.
“If you’re going to have a sustainable population, you’ve got to have a lot of land for panthers to roam,” said
That’s exactly what supporters say the panther protection program will provide.
It still needs county, state, and federal approval, but could be in place within the next two years.
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