Friday, March 15, 2013

An Appeal to Protect Panther Habitat

An Open Letter to Rick Scott
RE: Save the Florida Panther Day

Dear Governor Scott:

Your recent decision to declare March 16th as “Save the Florida Panther Day” is a first step in the education and promotion of one of the rarest species within the United States.

Your declaration that the panther is a “symbol of the natural character of Florida,” however raises some issues. Unnecessary roads, housing developments, and mining activities are currently carving up natural Florida. Our waters are filled with slime, our air is polluted, our lands are constantly under threat by development, and backdoor deals ensure that this treatment of wild Florida will continue for generations to come. Is this the type of natural character you are promoting?

The last vestiges of panther habitat are under threat and the necessary measures to prevent this habitat destruction are being ignored. There is no critical habitat designated for Florida panthers. Mitigation banking for panthers does not add any new habitat for this imperiled species, but only sets aside a small percentage of land, while the rest of their current habitat is destroyed. They have nowhere to go. You have the opportunity to protect wildlife corridors that would ensure their safe travel throughout the state. You have the power to protect their last remnant of functioning habitat which is only 5% of their original habitat, and shrinking every day.

If it truly is your intention to save the Florida panther, and not just create an arbitrary day, then protect their habitat from all further development by supporting a protected wildlife corridor throughout the state of Florida. In doing so, you will protect the greater Everglades ecosystem, the species of natural Florida, and provide a true service to all the current and future residents of Florida. Instead of “pausing and reflecting on the plight of the Florida panther,” take the action to ensure the survival of this species.

Otherwise, this day of celebration will one day be a day of mourning for a species whose extinction you took no steps to prevent.


Alexis Meyer

Associate Organizing Representative
Sierra Club Florida
Florida Panther Critical Habitat Campaign

Marian Ryan

Conservation Chair
Sierra Club Florida