Speaking out for the Florida Panther Against FWC Panther Policy

Cougars at Big Cat Rescue

Carole and Jen Speak out for the Florida Panther

Against FWC’s “revised” Panther Policy

at the Sept. 2, 2015 Commissioner meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Jennifer Leon Speaks Out for the Florida Panther

Back in June, the majority of public comments heard by this commission did not support the original draft position statement. The commission said they heard our concerns. Yet the revised position statement reads none the wiser. The language has been polished with semantics and spruced up with welcomed recommendations, but the core content remains the same.

Despite comments to the contrary, the FWC is still seeking weaker protections for the Florida panther – putting into question the Panther’s protective status and the objectives needed for de-listing. The statement continues to reject that current population goals are achievable, without scientific merit, and focuses the FWC’s resources on managing the sole population of 180 panthers in SWFL. A population that the FWC suggest has fully occupied all available Panther habitat. That’s a nicer way of saying they have reached carrying capacity and implies that the FWC is heading down the same road it took with the Florida black bear, towards the lethal management of panthers deemed a nuisance.

Rather than following the science and allowing for due process by giving the Fish & Wildlife Services’s Panther Recovery Implementation Team the time to review the status and management goals of the Florida panther, this commission is pushing forward an ill advised agenda.

I respectfully request that the revised statement not be approved.

 

Carole Baskin Speaks Out for the Florida Panther

 

 

My name is Carole Baskin and I am the founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue.

I urge you to discard your plan to undermine the Florida Panther recovery program and instead to fully support your partners who are working to protect our state’s most treasured icon.

I’ve been coming to these meetings for 20 years urging you to ban the private possession of wild animals. I participate, at considerable peril to my family and self by those who seek to use wild animals, because I love this state. Florida is the top travel destination in the world, generating in excess of 67 billion dollars annually. Tourists come here to enjoy our sunshine, beaches and natural resources so it is in the best interest of the state to protect our wildlife.

It is as simple as supply and demand.

For the Florida Panther to thrive they have to eat. The amount of land necessary to support a viable population is dependant directly upon the availability of food. No person in Florida HAS to hunt to survive, but the Florida Panther does. The very first thing the Florida Wildlife Commission should do is prohibit hunting in existing and potential panther habitat.

The very next thing that needs to be done is to ban the private possession of wild animals in Florida. Failure to do so has wreaked havoc on our state. Escaped and released pythons have sucked virtually every other living species out of the Everglades. Opening a hunt on them, while exotic animals are still openly traded in Florida is ridiculous, at best.

If you just took those two steps, the Florida Panther would begin to recover, as would all other wildlife that would benefit from the protection given the panther.

If hikers didn’t have to worry about being shot by hunters you could charge for access to natural areas that would far exceed what you can make by selling permits to maim and kill our state’s wildlife. Only 3% of our population are hunters, and yet they seem to be the only stakeholders that matter to this commission. In all the meetings I’ve attended, it has been loathsome to have to listen to this commission, spend the vast majority of their time, trying to devise more ways, to sell more permits, to maim and kill more animals.

If you went home today to find that your child tortured and killed the family pet, you would probably worry that they are on their way to becoming a criminal. And yet, when adults do it under the banner of “hunting” or worse “sportsmanship” it has some perverse sanctity…at least in the minds of other hunters.

Cecil the lion’s death raised awareness about the entire hunting industry and the public outcry makes it clear that it is time to set aside the brutality and work together to protect our wildlife.

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